14 November 2012

Transcendental Meditation Increases Survival Rate in Heart Patients And Reduces Risk of Stroke and Heart Attack

New research show that heart disease patients who regularly practice transcendental meditation reduces the risk of death, heart attack, and stroke.

Meditation is a practice where the person produces a deep state of relaxation, tranquility, and calmness. It is done by focusing attention to a mental image, train of thought, calming word or phrase, or imagining oneself in a calming situation. Meditation also requires removing oneself from stress and distractions during the practice.

Meditation usually is associated with a spiritual or religious component but is not always the case. There are meditation techniques that has none of these connotations and its goal is to achieve an enhanced physical and emotional well-being.

Transcendental meditation is a type of meditation technique where a mantra, such as a word, sound or phrase is repeatedly silently to narrow the conscious awareness and eliminate all thoughts from the mind. The point of focus is exclusively on the mantra to achieve a state of perfect stillness and consciousness.

Transcendental meditation is one of the most practiced type of mediation and also the most researched meditation techniques.

Meditation may reduce death, heart attack and stroke in heart patients

African Americans 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 African Americans who attended a health education class over more than five years, according to new research published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Video: Dr. Pamela Peeke on Transcendental Meditation

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."

For the study, researchers randomly assigned 201 people to participate in a Transcendental Meditation stress-reducing program or a health education class about lifestyle modification for diet and exercise.
  • Forty-two percent of the participants were women, average age 59, and half reported earning less than $10,000 per year.
  • Average body mass index was about 32, which is clinically obese.
  • Nearly 60 percent in both treatment groups took cholesterol-lowering drugs; 41 percent of the meditation group and 31 percent of the health education group took aspirin; and 38 percent of the meditation group and 43 percent of the health education group smoked.
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 behaviors such as exercise, healthy meal preparation and nonspecific 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.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Death from heart disease is about 50 percent higher in black adults compared to whites in the United States. Researchers focused on African Americans because of health disparities in America.

"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 research on Transcendental Meditation and cardiovascular disease is established well enough that physicians may safely and routinely prescribe stress reduction for their patients with this easy to implement, standardized and practical program," he said.


American Heart Association
Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes
Medical College of Wisconsin
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
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