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The Use of Virtual Reality Therapy in Cardiology

Virtual reality in healthcare has a multitude of applications, and the technology is advancing with leaps and bounds every day. Virtual reality therapy is a new form of treatment that is used to help patients with various medical conditions. VR therapy has been proven as an effective way of treating PTSD and other mental health disorders. It offers a safe environment where the patient can re-experience traumatic events from their past without the fear of being harmed or judged by others around them. Virtual reality therapy is now being increasingly used as a new way of treating patients with cardiac diseases.

VR therapy in cardiology allows patients to experience situations that would otherwise be hard for them to cope with. It provides them with a highly immersive experience that is more closely related to the real world in terms of sensory feedback, which leads to better outcomes.

VR therapy can also help in rehabilitation after a cardiac event, such as heart attack or surgery. Patients are able to experience what it’s like to walk again, which helps them recover more quickly and strengthens their mental state overall.

VR therapy can be used in cardiac medicine for several conditions, including the following:

  • Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Depressive Symptoms
  • Mood Disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Stress

Anxiety, depression, and high stress levels are problems that are increasingly being associated with cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that these symptoms can be perceived in one among five patients with some form of heart disease. If left untreated, these issues can result in increased mortality rates, decline in the quality of life, and greater health costs. Depressions rates are significantly higher in cardiac patients than among the general population. Addressing concerns of depression is critical as this factor alone raises the risk of health-related complications and deaths, and it is also a notable predictor of subsequent hospitalizations.

Multiple studies suggest that comorbidity related to anxiety disorders and depressive disorders is extensive and substantial. Such disorders can have a significant impact on several physiological reactions, including autonomic nervous system dysfunctions, inflammatory processes, and abnormal coronary blood flow.

Given the high-stress lifestyles of today, it comes as no surprise that cardiovascular disease is on the rise worldwide. Schultz’s autogenic training is the most commonly applied therapeutic intervention in cardiac rehabilitation. However, its efficacy in reducing anxiety and depression disorders has been perceived to be considerably low.

An increasing number of scientific reports have been examining the use of virtual reality programs to treat mental health problems in people with cardiac disease. These VR therapy programs are designed to address and lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression in these patients.  

With the use of immersive VR therapy, patients can be virtually separated from the hospital setting, effectively removing them from a potentially distressing or disturbing environment. Being part of the virtual world results in an intense auditory, visual, and kinesthetic stimulation, having a calming effect on the patient and lifting their mood. VR therapy can also be used to motivate cardiac patients during the rehabilitation process.

VR therapy has been proven to be highly effective in helping patients to recover their emotional balance, strengthen their own psychological resources, and consequently, activate their natural recovery mechanisms. As further advancements take place in the world of medical VR, it is certain that VR therapy in the area of cardiovascular disease will continue to be a major focus of attention.