Mind over body: Relaxing Your Way to a Healthy Heart
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and is about 50 percent higher in black adults compared to whites in the United States. Now, new studies show that calming the mind may heal the heart.
“Transcendental Meditation may reduce heart disease risks for both healthy people and those with diagnosed heart conditions,” said Robert Schneider, M.D., lead researcher and director of the institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention in Fairfield, Iowa.
The study placed about 200 people suffering from obesity in either a Transcendental Meditation stress-reducing program or a health education class about lifestyle modification for diet and exercise.
Results showed that African Americans with heart disease who practiced Transcendental Meditation were half as likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke or die compared to those who participated in the education class.
Those practicing meditation also lowered their blood pressure and reported less stress and anger. The more regularly patients meditated, the greater their survival, said researchers who conducted the study at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
“It appears that Transcendental Meditation is a technique that turns on the body’s own pharmacy to repair and maintain itself,” Schneider said.
Participants in the meditation program sat with eyes closed for about 20 minutes twice a day, allowing their minds and bodies to rest deeply while remaining alert.
The health education group was advised, under the instruction of professional health educators, to spend at least 20 minutes a day at home practicing heart-healthy behaviors such as exercise, healthy mean preparation and nonspecific relaxation.
Both groups showed beneficial changes in exercise and alcohol consumption. About 40 percent of people in each group smoked, and the meditation group showed a trend toward smoking less. Blood pressure was also reduced by 5mm Hg in the meditation group, and anger decreased significantly compared to the education group. No significant differences were seen between the two groups in weight, exercise or diet.
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.
“We hypothesize that reducing stress by managing the mind-body connection would help improve rates of this epidemic disease,” Schneider said, who is also dean of Maharishi College of Perfect Health in Fairfield, Iowa.
Schneider added that stress reduction can be prescribed to patients using the same program researchers used for the study.
Source: American Heart Association Journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes