Study: Meditation Benefits Heart Health
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recently funded a 3.8 million dollar study on transcendental meditation in patients with coronary heart disease that found patients who practiced TM had a nearly 50 percent lower rate of heart attack, stroke and death compared to those in the study who did not meditate!
The researchers explained that previous research on transcendental mediation has shown promise in reducing blood pressure, psychological stress and other risks factors for heart disease, but this was the first controlled clinical trial that showed that the long-term practice of transcendental meditation reduces the incidence of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, strokes, and death.
For nine years, the randomized controlled trial tracked 201 African American men and women with an average age of 59, and all had been diagnosed with narrowing of the arteries in their hearts. The study subjects continued taking their regular medications and any other typical medical care during the study. Half of the group was randomly assigned to practice stress-reducing transcendental meditation and the other half who were placed in the non-meditating group instead participated in health education classes that covered the standard cardiovascular risk factors.
In the transcendental mediation group, there was dramatic reduction in the risk of death, heart attacks and stroke, as well as a significant reduction in blood pressure. The meditation also helped to reduce the psychological stress in a sub-group of patients who were having undergoing high levels of anxiety and other stress. "This study is an example of the contributions of a lifestyle intervention- stress management- to the prevention of cardiovascular disease in high-risk patients," noted Theodore Kotchen, M.D., co-author of the study and associate dean for clinical research at the Medical College.
Dr. Robert Schneider, M.D., FACC and lead author and director of the Center for Natural Medicine and Prevention, said the effect of transcendental meditation in the trial was like adding a class of newly discovered medications for the prevention of heart disease. "In this case, the new medications are derived from the body's own internal pharmacy stimulated by the Transcendental Meditation practice," he said in the press release.
Transcendental meditation (TM) first hit the national scene in the United States in the 1960's when the Beatles were experimenting in different spiritual practices that help to reduce stress. Researchers started taking notice and have been studying the effects and benefits of various forms of meditation ever since. With promising new findings and no risk of side effects, mediation is a safe, natural way for everyone - heart patients especially - to improve their health and well being.