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Regular Meditation May Lower Risk of Heart Disease
Can meditating as little as twenty minutes twice a day help prevent heart attack and stroke?
A new study indicates that lowering stress levels through regular meditation indeed may help not just to lower blood pressure naturally and reduce depression, and anxiety, but also to decrease the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
According to the study, which followed a group of patients with coronary heart disease over nine years, people practicing the meditation technique Transcendental Meditation had nearly 50 percent lower rates of heart attack, stroke, and mortality than controls. The study was part of a $3.8 million trial sponsored by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. It followed a group of 201 African American men and women with narrowing of arteries, which were randomly assigned to either a group which practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique to reduce stress and to a control group, which received health education in how to reduce coronary risk factors, including diet. After nine years, the study found a significant reduction in blood pressure in the group practicing the TM technique, and even more significantly, a 47 percent reduction in the combination of death, heart attacks and strokes.
Several other studies have shown that people who meditate regularly using the TM technique show reduced psychological stress, lower blood pressure, lower levels of anxiety and depression, and lower indexes on other risk factors for heart disease. However, this is the first long-term study to show that over time, these changes ad up to lower incidence of clinical events like heart attacks, strokes, and death.
The study adds to the long list of studies, which show that something as simple as reducing stress, be it through yoga, meditation, or simple lifestyle changes, can add up to significant benefits in terms of one's long-term health.