Meditation May Benefit Heart Patients
Study: Black Patients With Heart Failure Improve Significantly After Meditation
March 7, 2007 -- Regular meditation is known to relieve stress, and now
early research suggests that it can benefit patients with congestive heart
The small pilot study included 23 recently hospitalized black patients.
Thirteen were taught the techniques of Transcendental Meditation (TM) and asked
to practice it for six months. The remaining patients received educational
training about their heart disease without instruction on meditation.
Changes in a six-minute walking test at three and six months were measured
by the researchers, as were changes in mood, quality of life, stress, and
University of Pennsylvania assistant professor Ravishankar Jayadevappa, PhD,
who led the study team, tells WebMD that the patients who meditated showed
significant improvements in depression and on the six-minute walking test. The
six-minute walking test was used to measure functional capacity.
"This is a small study, and it needs to be replicated in a larger trial
with a more diverse population," he says. "But it is the first study to
look specifically at stress reduction through meditation in African-American
patients with congestive heart failure."
What Is Heart Failure?
Each year in the U.S. roughly 500,000 people receive a diagnosis of
congestive heart failure, and 300,000 people die from the disease, according to
figures from the American Heart Association.
Heart failure is responsible for more than 2.5 million hospital admissions
each year in the U.S.
In heart failure, the heart doesn't pump blood as well as it should. This
can lead to a backup of fluid in the body, such as in the legs and lungs. It
also means that the heart isn't pumping as much oxygenated blood to different
areas of the body. This can produce a decrease in tolerance of physical
activity due to fatigue and shortness of breath.
Jayadevappa says the pilot study included only blacks because they are more
likely than whites to develop heart failure and die from the disease.
Patients in the TM arm of the study were taught the meditation technique
over seven consecutive days in daily 1.5-hour sessions. They were then asked to
meditate for 15 to 20 minutes twice a day.
The remaining patients participated in nonmeditation-based educational
training that paralleled the time spent teaching the meditation technique. They
were then asked to listen to music or read for 20 minutes, twice each day, as a
way to relieve stress.
The researchers reported significant benefits for meditation in terms of
physical functioning, as measured by the six-minute walking test, and
depression. And just two heart-failure related events were reported in the
meditation group during the six-month study, compared with five in the patients
who did not meditate.
The findings are reported in the Winter 2007 edition of the journal
Ethnicity and Disease. The study was sponsored by the National Center
for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National
Institutes of Health.