Meditation may help cut death risk in heart patients
A new research has found that people with heart disease who practiced Transcendental Meditation regularly were 48 percent less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or die from all causes compared with those who attended a health education class over more than five years.
Those practicing meditation also lowered their blood pressure and reported less stress and anger. And the more regularly patients meditated, the greater their survival, said researchers who conducted the study at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
"We hypothesized that reducing stress by managing the mind-body connection would help improve rates of this epidemic disease," said Robert Schneider, M.D., lead researcher and director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention in Fairfield, Iowa.
"It appears that Transcendental Meditation is a technique that turns on the body's own pharmacy - to repair and maintain itself," he stated.
For the study, researchers randomly assigned 201 African Americans to participate in a Transcendental Meditation stress-reducing program or a health education class about lifestyle modification for diet and exercise.
Those in the meditation program sat with eyes closed for about 20 minutes twice a day practicing the technique, allowing their minds and bodies to rest deeply while remaining alert.
Participants in the health education group were advised, under the instruction of professional health educators, to spend at least 20 minutes a day at home practicing heart-healthy behaviours such as exercise, healthy meal preparation and non-specific relaxation.
Researchers evaluated participants at the start of the study, at three months and every six months thereafter for body mass index, diet, program adherence, blood pressure and cardiovascular hospitalizations. They found:
There were 52 primary end point events. Of these, 20 events occurred in the meditation group and 32 in the health education group.
Blood pressure was reduced by 5 mm Hg and anger decreased significantly among Transcendental Meditation participants compared to controls.
Both groups showed beneficial changes in exercise and alcohol consumption, and the meditation group showed a trend towards reduced smoking. Although, there were no significant differences between the groups in weight, exercise or diet.
Regular meditation was correlated with reduced death, heart attack and stroke.
"Transcendental Meditation may reduce heart disease risks for both healthy people and those with diagnosed heart conditions," said Schneider, who is also dean of Maharishi College of Perfect Health in Fairfield, Iowa.
The new research was published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.