Heart disease patients can significantly reduce their risk of death or stroke by meditating each day, research suggests.
A nine-year study by US researchers found that pactising transcendental meditation (TM) for 20 minutes a day was as good, if not better, at cutting the risk of death or life-threatening events such as stroke than commonly prescribed drugs.
The researchers followed a group of 201 African Americans who had an average age of 69 with disproportionately high rates of heart disease
Half the group were taught TM while the other half received conventional health education classes.
The study found that teaching patients to meditate for 20 minutes twice a day reduced the overall risk of death, non-fatal heart attack, or stroke by 47%.
Those who were especially compliant with the programme, and did not skip meditation sessions, saw a 66% risk reduction.
For another subgroup of “high stress” patients there was a 64% improvement.
“The effect is large, or larger, than major categories of drug treatment for cardiovascular disease,” said lead researcher Dr Robert Schneider, from the Maharishi University of Management in Iowa. “However, subjects were already taking standard medications and this effect was on top of that.”
Significant reductions in blood pressure and psychological stress were associated with the results, said the researchers, whose findings appear in an online edition of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.
- Paul-Labrador M, et al. Effects of a Randomized Controlled Trial of Transcendental Meditation on Components of the Metabolic Syndrome in Subjects With Coronary Heart Disease. Arch Intern Med 2006;166:1218-1224.