HEART DISEASE: Strongest Study Yet Shows Meditation Can Lower Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke *

Most doctors say meditation can’t hurt you, but now there’s reassuring evidence that it may help you as well when it comes to warding off disease,” says Laura Blue from TIME.com*

NICOLAS HANSEN / GETTY IMAGES

“The main finding [of our research] is that, added on top of usual medical care, intervention with a mind-body technique — transcendental meditation — can have a major effect on cardiovascular events,” says Robert Schneider, lead author on the study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes**

After roughly five years of follow-up, the researchers found a 48% reduction in the overall risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from any cause among members of the meditation group compared to those from the health education group. The meditating group enjoyed an average drop of 4.9 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure compared to the control group and also reported less stress and less anger. “It’s like discovering a whole new class of medications,” Schneider says of the power of meditation in improving the patients’ health.

 It’s like discovering a whole new class of medications 

While the findings aren’t likely to resolve questions over whether meditation should become a standard part of heart disease care, the results should give more doctors confidence in discussing the practice with their patients and giving them some scientifically based information that’s an improvement over the advice that “it can’t hurt to try.”

Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes from the American Heart Association

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Stress Reduction in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease (AHA 2012) **

Randomized, Controlled Trial of Transcendental Meditation and Health Education in Blacks

American Heart Association 2012

Received July 16, 2012.
Accepted September 14, 2012.

Authors :

Robert H. Schneider , Clarence E. Grim , Maxwell V. Rainforth , Theodore Kotchen , Sanford I. Nidich , Carolyn Gaylord-King , et al.


Abstract :

Background: Blacks have disproportionately high rates of cardiovascular disease. Psychosocial stress may contribute to this disparity. Previous trials on stress reduction with the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program have reported improvements in cardiovascular disease risk factors, surrogate end points, and mortality in blacks and other populations.

Methods and Results: This was a randomized, controlled trial of 201 black men and women with coronary heart disease who were randomized to the TM program or health education. The primary end point was the composite of all-cause mortality, myocardial infarction, or stroke. Secondary end points included the composite of cardiovascular mortality, revascularizations, and cardiovascular hospitalizations; blood pressure; psychosocial stress factors; and lifestyle behaviors. During an average follow-up of 5.4 years, there was a 48% risk reduction in the primary end point in the TM group (hazard ratio, 0.52; 95% confidence interval, 0.29–0.92; P=0.025). The TM group also showed a 24% risk reduction in the secondary end point (hazard ratio, 0.76; 95% confidence interval, 0.51–0.1.13; P=0.17). There were reductions of 4.9 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure (95% confidence interval −8.3 to –1.5 mm Hg; P=0.01) and anger expression (P<0.05 for all scales). Adherence was associated with survival.

Conclusions: A selected mind–body intervention, the TM program, significantly reduced risk for mortality, myocardial infarction, and stroke in coronary heart disease patients. These changes were associated with lower blood pressure and psychosocial stress factors. Therefore, this practice may be clinically useful in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

* Laura Blue « Strongest Study Yet Shows Meditation Can Lower Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke », TIME.com, Nov. 14, 2012, <TIME.com>, Other link : <TIME.com pdf>
** Robert H. Schneider, Clarence E. Grim, Maxwell V. Rainforth, et al. « Stress Reduction in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Randomized, Controlled Trial of Transcendental Meditation and Health Education in Blacks », Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes, November 13 2012, <American Heart Association 2012>, Other link : <Complete article pdf>

DOI: 10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.112.967406

Larry Husten « Investigator Defends Controversial Transcendental Meditation Paper », Forbes: PHARMA & HEALTHCARE, 11/20/2012, <Forbes.com>