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CPHR Student, Elena Salmoirago-Blotcher, Receives Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award

Date Posted: December 01, 2009

Dr. Elena Salmoirago-Blotcher

Elena Salmoirago-Blotcher, MD, is a cardiologist who joined CPHR as a full time student in 2007 to launch a research career after being a practicing clinician for many years. She recently was awarded a National Research Service Award for three years of support to conduct her dissertation research. Ira Ockene, MD, Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology is her mentor. Dr. Salmoirago-Blotcher is interested in the effects of anxiety and stress on recovery of patients who require an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). She will be conducting a small randomized controlled trial at UMass Memorial Health Care, recruiting and randomizing 52 cardiac patients around the time they have their ICD implanted. ICDs are implanted to stabilize the heart rhythms of patients and to prevent sudden cardiac death. At the same time, the experience of having an implanted ICD may cause anxiety and stress for patients, and the outcomes for ICD patients at one year are not as positive as might be predicted. Dr. Salmoirago-Blotcher theorized that a mindfulness-based intervention (including different breathing and attention-focusing techniques) might help ICD patients to reduce their levels of anxiety and thus promote better overall health and cardiac outcomes after implantation. Patients in the intervention group will receive one in-hospital mindfulness session, followed by seven weeks of individual telephone coaching. The usual care group will receive routine education and support and supportive/reminder follow up calls. All patients will complete anxiety and functional assessments at baseline and at 9 weeks of follow-up. Additional clinical outcome data will be collected form medical records.