Meditation Improves Outcomes for Black Americans With Heart Disease
20 minutes of meditation twice a day keeps the doctor away
--by Jenara Nerenberg
Meditation has become increasingly popular in the
United States for its stress-reducing effects, but could the practice
help save your life?
Yes, says new research published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, which showed that African Americans with heart disease who practice regular transcendental meditation are 48 percent less likely to experience a heart attack or stroke as compared to those who are enrolled in health education classes without meditation practice. Less anger, less stress, and lower blood pressure were also reported in the meditation group.
The Expert Take
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.
Meditation is proving to be a cost-effective approach for lowering stress and blood pressure, which correlate with heart disease.
"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," Schneider said.
The program required participants to sit quietly and meditate for 20 minutes twice each day.
calms the mind and lowers stress, therefore reducing your chances of
developing stress-induced conditions, such as hypertension—conditions
that are also known to lead to heart disease. If you have or are at risk
for heart disease, consider enrolling in a meditation class at a local
community college or hospital.
According to the study, "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."
Source and Method
201 people participated in a transcendental meditation class or a health education class on diet and exercise. The majority of participants were obese and very low-income, and also had other conditions such as high cholesterol. According to the research, "regular meditation was correlated with reduced death, heart attack, and stroke."
A 2003 study showed that meditation programs helped reduce anxiety in women with heart disease—a
finding particularly significant because anxiety is thought to
contribute to heart disease, and heart disease is the number one cause
of death among women in the United States. The Cochrane Collaboration
also acknowledged this effect in a 2009 review, but concluded that research on meditation and heart disease tends to be biased.
And an earlier report reviewed prior studies and concluded that stress management programs that reduce other related factors—type A behavior, hypertension, and raised serum cholesterol—are also effective at reducing the deadly consequences of heart disease.