This week hundreds of articles have appeared in newspapers around the world about the results of a new scientific study published on November 13th in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
The randomized, controlled study found that African Americans with heart disease who regularly practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique 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.
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 at Maharishi University of Management 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.
Those in the TM 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.
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 Dr. Schneider,
“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.
CLICK HERE to see TIME magazine’s related story”
Strongest Study Yet Shows Meditation Can Lower Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke