Meditation may decrease the risk of heart disease

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

Meditation may decrease the risk of heart disease, according to a first-ever statement on the practice issued by the American Heart Association.

But the key word to remember is “may.”

“The research is suggestive, but not definitive,” said Glenn N. Levine, M.D., chairman of the group of cardiovascular disease experts who reviewed recent science to determine whether meditation could help reduce heart disease risks.

The experts found a potential benefit to the heart from meditation, but mostly the small studies were not conclusive.

“Overall, studies of meditation suggest a possible benefit on cardiovascular risk, although the overall quality and in some cases quantity of study data is modest,” said the statement, released Thursday.

The committee looked at 57 studies that researched common types of “sitting meditation” and whether the practice had any impact on heart disease.

Some types of meditation included in the research were: Samatha; Vipassana (Insight Meditation); Mindful Meditation; Zen Meditation (Zazen); Raja Yoga; Loving-Kindness (Metta); Transcendental Meditation; and Relaxation Response.

The group excluded studies of meditation that incorporated physical activity – such as yoga or Tai Chi – because physical activity itself has been proven to help the heart.

Levine said there is a good deal of research on the effects of meditation on stress, mental health and conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

But research is more limited on meditation and heart health.

“Certainly, it would be desirable to have larger trials that follow patients for a longer period of time,” said Levine, a professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Meditation itself has been around for centuries — at...

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