African Americans diagnosed with heart disease who practiced Transcendental Meditation were significantly less likely to die or have a heart attack or stroke, according to a new study.
Researchers compared the group who meditated twice a day with African Americans who attended a health education class for more than five years. The research was published in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation.
“It appears that Transcendental Meditation is a technique that turns on the body’s own pharmacy – to repair and maintain itself,” said Dr. Robert Schneider, lead researcher, in a news release from the American Heart Association.
The goal of Transcendental Meditation is to “achieve a state of relaxed awareness,” according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Schneider, director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention said he and his colleagues wanted to test the hypothesis that reducing stress would lower heart disease rates.
For the study, roughly 200 people participated in a Transcendental Meditation stress-reducing program or a health education class that discussed changing lifestyle behaviors, such as diet, and the benefits of exercise.
Researchers assessed their body mass index, blood pressure levels and diet at the beginning of the study, after three months and every six months thereafter. Those who were assigned to the meditation group, practiced twice a day for 20 minutes.
The study’s findings include:
- Of the 52 cases of death, heart attack or stroke that occurred during the study, 32 were people in the health education group and 20 were members of the meditation group.
- People who participated in the meditation group lowered their blood pressure by 5 mm Hg compared to the health education class members.
- Both groups improved their exercise levels and reduced their alcohol consumption. The meditation group showed a trend toward reduced smoking.
- Regular meditation was correlated with reduced death, heart attack and stroke.
Source: American Heart Association news release
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