Heart Disease Mind & Body

Say ‘Om’

Find a quiet space and boost heart health, lower stress

For a calm way to boost your heart health, find a quiet spot and meditate. Decades of research show the practice can alter a range of body functions, including respiration, blood vessel dilation and stress-hormone regulation. That, the studies say, could mean lower risks of disease, including cardiovascular disease.
Transcendental Meditation (TM), the most studied form of meditation, appears to protect against heart disease and stroke by lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and improving the functioning of blood vessel walls. In one study, men and women who practiced meditation were 30 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease compared to their peers.
In another study, researchers recruited African-American participants who all suffered from heart disease. Half the participants participated in a TM program with two 20-minute meditation sessions a day. The other half learned standard heart disease prevention tips about diet and exercise.
Both groups had positive results, but those in the TM group lowered their blood pressure and experienced a 15 percent reduction in cardiovascular events. After five years, members of the TM group were 48 percent less likely to have died, or experienced a heart attack or stroke, than the other study participants.
While you might not feel the benefits of meditation immediately, you may notice later that you respond with calm to a crisis or find you’re peaceful in a situation that would normally anger you. So give this heart-healthy habit a go. Set aside 20 minutes each day, unplug and seek inner peace.

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