Having a heart attack? Call 911 – and pack your Tetris game

by Carolyn Thomas

I confess that there was a time when I was ever so slightly addicted to playing the computer puzzle game Tetris.  Like many parents, I discovered it through my children during their early teen years.  Back then, I was known to occasionally “borrow” their little Gameboy and then stay up until 2 a.m. playing “just one more game” while trying to beat my previous best score. But U.K. researchers tell us that time-wasters like Tetris or other so-called “distractor tasks” might very well help to minimize the psychological effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

We know that heart attack survivors have a disturbingly high incidence of undiagnosed PTSD.  Research reported in the British Journal of Health Psychology suggests, for example, that as many as 16% of cardiac survivors actually meet clinical criteria for acute PTSD, and a further 18% report moderate to severe PTSD symptoms.

So if distractor tasks such as playing an obsessively distracting computer puzzle game like Tetris can successfully help to treat PTSD in those affected by combat exposure, could playing Tetris also help heart attack survivors?   Continue reading “Having a heart attack? Call 911 – and pack your Tetris game”