Heart disease patients improve their odds. With growing research supporting the long-term health benefits of meditation, doctors may soon be prescribing the practice as a means of stress reduction for patients with heart disease.
African Americans with heart disease who committed to a transcendental meditation practice reduced their risk of death, heart attack or stroke by 48% over more than a 5-year period compared with patients who received usual care. Lead study author Robert Schneider, MD, director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention in Fairfield, Iowa, said in a press release, “It appears that transcendental meditation is a technique that turns on the body’s own pharmacy—to repair and maintain itself.”
Researchers randomly assigned 201 men and women to either transcendental meditation or a heart-health education class. Data analysis showed that those who practiced meditation not only had fewer adverse heart events but also experienced lower blood pressure and less anger than those in the health education group. Investigators evaluated participants at the beginning of the study, after 3 months, and every 6 months thereafter for an average follow-up of 5.4 years.
The study appeared in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation: Cardio-vascular Quality and Outcomes (2012; doi: 10.qq61/circoutcomes.112.967406).
Blood pressure levels drop in teens and adults. Transcendental meditation can help both teens and adults reduce blood pressure and other factors related to heart disease, according to a research review published in Current Hypertension Reviews (2012; 8 , 227-42). In adolescents at risk for hypertension, the practice lowered blood pressure, reduced cardiovascular reactivity and improved school behavior. In adults with mild or moderate hypertension, consistent use of transcendental meditation resulted in lower blood pressure and less use of antihypertensive drugs.