Canadian Journal of Cardiology
Training/Practice Health Policy and Promotion| Volume 35, ISSUE 10, P1409-1411, October 2019

Reducing Caregiver Distress and Cardiovascular Risk: A Focus on Caregiver-Patient Relationship Quality

Published:September 09, 2019DOI:


      Spouses report elevated levels of distress upon assuming a caregiver role; this role and related distress might, ironically, increase the cardiovascular risk of spousal caregivers of patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Physiological, behavioural, and emotional factors experienced by caregivers can contribute to enhanced CVD risk. Despite an appreciation of these established associations few approaches have shown effectiveness in reducing a caregiver’s stress. It is known that CVD can produce additional strain on a caregiver-patient relationship, in turn accentuating caregiver distress. Poor relationships are known to be a detriment to cardiovascular health and negatively influence behaviours affecting CVD risk and outcomes. In light of these findings, we argue in this nonsystematic narrative review that enhancing caregiver-patient relationship quality in secondary prevention programs might afford an appropriate and timely opportunity to reduce caregiver distress and improve the cardiovascular health of the patient and their spousal caregiver. Evaluations of the effect of couples-based interventions on patient and caregiver CVD risk and health outcomes are required.


      Les conjoints de patients atteints d’une maladie cardiovasculaire (MCV) qui assument un rôle d’aidant se plaignent de niveaux de détresse élevés; ironiquement, le rôle de ces conjoints et la détresse qui y est associée peuvent augmenter leur risque cardiovasculaire. Des facteurs physiologiques, comportementaux et émotionnels peuvent contribuer à accroître ce risque. Même si ces liens sont établis et connus, peu d’approches se sont révélées efficaces pour réduire le stress chez les aidants. On sait que la MCV peut provoquer des tensions entre le patient et son conjoint aidant, ce qui accentue la détresse de ce dernier. Les problèmes relationnels sont nuisibles à la santé cardiovasculaire et peuvent modifier négativement les comportements, ce qui se répercute sur le risque de MCV et les résultats cliniques. À la lumière de ces observations, nous postulons dans notre synthèse méthodique non systématique que l’amélioration de la relation entre le patient et le conjoint aidant dans le cadre de programmes de prévention secondaire pourrait être une occasion appropriée de réduire la détresse de l’aidant tout en améliorant sa santé cardiovasculaire et celle du patient. Des évaluations de l’effet des interventions auprès de couples de patient-aidant sur leur risque de MCV et les résultats cliniques sont nécessaires.
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      Linked Article

      • Caregiver Burden and Cardiovascular Disease: Can We Afford to Keep the Health of Caregivers in Canada Invisible?
        Canadian Journal of CardiologyVol. 35Issue 10
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          Nearly one-half (46%) of Canadians have been in caregiving roles to family members or friends; 50% of these caregivers are between the ages of 45 to 65 years, and the majority (54%) are women.1 A caregiver is broadly defined as someone who provides informal or unpaid work to a family member or friend with a chronic condition or disability.2 Caregiving roles typically include transportation, housework, house maintenance and outdoor work, scheduling and coordinating appointments, managing finances, helping with medical treatments, and providing personal care.
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