Meditation May Soothe Stressed Hearts
Daily Meditation May Reduce Heart Disease Risks
March 4, 2005 - The benefits of meditation may go beyond relaxing the mind.
Putting your mind at ease with daily meditation may make your heart healthier,
A new study suggests that meditation may improve the ability of the blood
vessels to relax and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Researchers found that four months of meditation significantly improved the ability
of the blood vessel lining, known as the endothelium, to expand and contract in
a group of black adolescents with high blood pressure.
"Our blood vessels are not rigid pipes," says researcher Vernon
Barnes, MD, a physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia, in a news
release. "They need to dilate and constrict, according to the needs of the
"Dysfunction in the ability of the endothelium to dilate is an early
event in heart disease, a process that starts at a young age," says
Barnes presented the results of his study this week at the Annual Scientific
Conference of the American Psychosomatic Society in Vancouver, Canada.
Meditation Helps the Heart
In the study, researchers looked at the effects of daily transcendental
meditation on blood vessel function in 111 black adolescents with high blood
pressure. Half of the youths meditated by allowing their mind to settle to
minimal activity for 15 minutes twice a day, and the other half received only
Blood vessel function was measured in both groups using ultrasound imaging
at the beginning of the study and four months later.
The results showed that the youths who practiced regular meditation
experienced a significantly greater improvement in their blood vessels' ability
to relax in response to stress compared with those who didn't meditate (2.5%
improvement vs. 0.5% in the comparison group).
"If this improvement in the ability to dilate can be replicated in other
at-risk groups and cardiovascular disease patients, this could have important
implications for inclusion of meditation programs to prevent and treat
cardiovascular disease and its clinical consequences," says Barnes. "We
know this type of change is achievable with lipid lowering drugs, but it's
remarkable that a meditation program can produce such a change."
"Change can't be expected overnight," says Barnes. "Meditation
and other positive lifestyle habits such as exercising and eating right have to
become part of your life, like brushing your teeth."
Researchers say long-term studies are needed to determine the long-term
impact of meditation on the risk of heart disease.