Anxiety-ridden, depressive and passive patients, on the other hand, run the risk of further serious deterioration of their heart's ability to function, said a team of health psychologists from Universities of Luxembourg, Mainz and San Francisco.
The researchers examined data of more than 200 outpatients on the waiting list.
"Out of fear of straining their ailing hearts, many patients hardly get any exercise, no longer take part in everyday activities or household chores and withdraw completely. The result is isolation, depression and further deterioration of their physical condition, a veritable downward spiral," said Claus Vogele, a health psychologist at University of Luxembourg.
The scientists recommended psychological counselling to help patients increase their everyday physical activity and reduce symptoms of depression to overcome their fears and remain active, thereby increasing their chances of survival until a donor heart is found.
The study appeared in the journal Health Psychology.