Meditation and the risk for heart disease

The practice of meditation offers numerous health benefits. Here in Mais Saúde we have already talked about the benefits of meditation in brain development. Now, we highlight a new study, published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which showed that the practice of meditation regularly can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

The study, conducted by University of Health Sciences of Georgia (USA), found that young people with high blood pressure who meditated 15 minutes twice daily had lessened indicators of heart muscle stress after four months.  “Transcendental” meditation was the type of meditation used in the study.

The researchers studied 62 black adolescents with mildly elevated blood pressure, and they were divided into two groups. The first half meditated twice daily for 15 minutes. The other received only guidance on how to reduce blood pressure and decrease risk for cardiovascular disease, but did not meditate (the “control” group).

Among young people who practiced meditation, left ventricular mass—an important indicator for future cardiovascular disease—was lower at the end of the study, when compared to the control group. The heart muscle mass was measured using three-dimensional echocardiography before and after the study.

Dr. Vernon Barnes, one of the authors of the study, said an increase in left ventricular muscle mass is caused by an excess load or stress on the heart in people with hypertension. He said some young people in the study already had increased heart muscle mass because of their higher blood pressure, and normally this tends to persist or worsen in adulthood.

Furthermore, Barnes explains that during meditation the sympathetic nervous system activity decreases and the body releases a lesser amount of normal stress hormones. As a result, there is a vasodilatory effect with meditation, meaning blood pressure falls and the heart has to work less to pump the blood. It appears that transcendental meditation causes the body to effectively go into a resting state, maybe even deeper than sleep, and if practiced over time, meditation can reduce the risks that these young people will develop cardiovascular disease. And, although the study was carried out in young people, it is likely the good cardiac effects of meditation are also true for adults too.

If you want to learn more about meditation, you can check out some of the many books on the subject at your local bookstore, or search for transcendental meditation on the internet.

To find a cardiologist to discuss your heart health, you can find one on our website:

See also in ProcuraMed:

 * Positive feelings help protect cardiovascular health

 * World Heart Day

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)