Patients with heart disease almost halved their risk of heart attack by practising meditation, according to recent research.
In the first study of its kind, patients with heart disease who practised transcendental meditation were found to have nearly 50% lower rates of heart attack, stroke, and death compared with other non-meditating patients.
In the nine year trial, 201 African-American men and women with an average age of 59 were randomly assigned to stress-reducing transcendental meditation or health education classes about the risk factors for heart disease, including diet and exercise.
All patients had narrowing of the arteries and everyone in the trial continued taking their usual drug regime.
The results showed a 47% reduction in combined death, heart attacks, and strokes in the meditating patients compared with those taking the health education classes. They also had lower blood pressure, according to the results of a first-ever study presented during the annual meeting of the American Heart Association.
Dr Robert Schneider, who led the study, said: “Previous research on transcendental meditation has shown reductions in blood pressure, psychological stress, and other risk factors for heart disease, irrespective of ethnicity.
“But this is the first controlled clinical trial to show that long-term practice of this particular stress reduction program reduces the incidence of clinical cardiovascular events, that is heart attacks, strokes and mortality.”
Theodore Kotchen, professor of medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, said: “This study is an example of the contribution of a lifestyle intervention – stress management – to the prevention of cardiovascular disease in high-risk patients.”
Dr. Schneider said that the effect of transcendental meditation in the trial was like adding a class of newly discovered medications for the prevention of heart disease.
“In this case, the new medications are derived from the body’s own internal pharmacy stimulated by the transcendental meditation practice,” he said.