Meditation ‘eases heart disease’

BBC: Heart disease patients who practise Transcendental Meditation have reduced death rates, US researchers have said.

At a meeting of the American Heart Association they said they had randomly assigned 201 African Americans to meditate or to make lifestyle changes.

After nine years, the meditation group had a 47% reduction in deaths, heart attacks and strokes.

The research was carried out by the Medical College in Wisconsin with the Maharishi University in Iowa.

It was funded by a £2.3m grant from the National Institute of Health and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

‘Significant benefits’

The African American men and women had an average age of 59 years and a narrowing of the arteries in their hearts.

The meditation group practised for 20 minutes twice a day.

The lifestyle change group received education classes in traditional risk factors, including dietary modification and exercise.

As well as the reductions in death, heart attacks and strokes in the meditating group, there was a clinically significant drop (5mm Hg) in blood pressure, and a significant reduction in psychological stress in some participants.

Robert Schneider, lead author and director of the Centre for Natural Medicine and Prevention at the Maharishi University in Iowa, said other studies had shown the benefits of Transcendental Meditation on blood pressure and stress, irrespective of ethnicity.

“This is the first controlled clinical trial to show that long-term practise of this particular stress reduction programme reduces the incidence of clinical cardiovascular events, that is heart attacks, strokes and mortality,” he said.

Dr Schneider said that the effect of Transcendental Meditation in the trial was like adding a class of newly discovered drugs for the prevention of heart disease.

He said: “In this case, the new medications are derived from the body’s own internal pharmacy stimulated by the Transcendental Meditation practice.”

Ingrid Collins, a consultant educational psychologist at the London Medical Centre, said: “I’m not at all surprised that a change of behaviour like this can have enormous benefits both emotionally and physically.

“Physical and emotional energy is on a continuum and whatever happens to us physically can affect our emotions and vice versa.”

British Heart Foundation Cardiac Nurse Ellen Mason said: “This is a fascinating area and the results were impressive.

“However, in order to fully assess the difference transcendental meditation could have on heart patient’s lives, we need to see research confirming it in a far bigger study and with other ethnic groups.”

3 Comments. Leave new

  • Really loved the article about meditation.One time I went to the Doctor’s for a check-up {my first visit,had never seen him before.}and he said me to me,”you walk and meditate.”I was really floored and asked what he had said that.Well,he said that I had the pulse of a twelve year old and very low blood pressure!

    Reply
  • Great article. Thanks. I think we should start acknowledging that there are significant and scientifically verifiable differences in various alternative/complementary approaches to our health. Just as you would consider it irresponsible for a doctor to say “take a pill take any pill you want” for a particular ailment, with the science that is now available it is irresponsible for a health professional to say do “any kind of meditation.” Transcendental Meditation (TM.org) is ahead of the pack. Meta-analysis of various mental techniques have shown the difference between various techniques and outcomes, such as reduction in anxiety, etc. Please keep covering this important topic.

    Reply
  • You wrote that “Transcendental Meditation (TM.org) is ahead of the pack.” I’m not aware of any research comparing different modalities of meditation, so for the meantime I’m taking your statement with that large pinch of salt I keep on hand to make the statements of partisan cheerleaders a bit more palatable.

    Reply

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