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Effects of meditation on cardiovascular health
According to a recent study, meditation seems to contribute to a reduced cardiovascular risk. The prevention of cardiovascular diseases is another verifiable positive health effect of meditation. In previous studies, meditation has been associated with positive effects in various other diseases.
The latest study involving the Baylor College of Medicine, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and the Mayo Clinic found that meditation can help people reduce their cardiovascular risk. The results were published in the English-language journal "American Journal of Cardiology".
Where did the data for the study come from?
Using the evaluation of a large national database, the new study examined how meditation affects cardiovascular risk. The researchers analyzed the data from a national health survey that is carried out annually by the National Center for Health Statistics.
More than 61,000 people were interviewed
The data from more than 61,000 participants in the survey were evaluated by the researchers. Almost 6,000 (just under ten percent) of the participants stated that they had carried out some form of meditation.
Positive effects of meditation
Previous studies have suggested that meditation can have positive effects in a number of diseases. A 2017 scientific study by the American Heart Association suggested that meditation could also be useful in reducing cardiovascular risk. The results suggested that meditation can have a positive impact on blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking cessation, and overall cardiovascular health.
Benefits related to meditation
In the current study, the researchers found that meditating people were less likely to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke or coronary artery disease compared to people who did not meditate.
The biggest difference between meditating and non-meditating people was in coronary artery disease. Meditating participants were 51 percent less likely to develop coronary artery disease compared to non-meditating people.
In the group of meditators, the likelihood of high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure also decreased compared to the participants in the non-meditating group.
Effect of meditation remained significant
The team also controlled various other factors related to cardiovascular risk, such as age, gender, smoking and body mass index (BMI). But even after taking these factors into account, the effect of meditation was still significant, the researchers report
Meditation helps with relaxation and stress relief
There are many different types of meditation. Most focus on attention and awareness. These forms of meditation are known to increase physical and mental relaxation. The researchers explain that meditation can give people a sense of calm, peace, and stress relief, which helps improve our emotional wellbeing.
Effects of meditation on the brain
The practice of meditation has been linked to reduced stress, increased mindfulness, and improved mental health. According to the research group, meditation can even lead to long-term functional and anatomical changes in the brain. Other advantages of meditation are that it is easy to do and inexpensive.
Weaknesses of the study
Unfortunately, the study did not determine what type of meditation the participants used. Some types of meditation may offer greater cardiovascular benefits, the researchers report. In addition, the duration or intensity of the meditation was not determined in the survey. Longer meditation may bring greater benefits.
Do healthy people start meditating more often?
The researchers are unable to definitively determine whether meditation directly reduces the cardiovascular risk. It is quite possible that people who generally have slightly better cardiovascular health will start meditating more often than people with poor cardiovascular health.
Negative effects of alcohol consumption
There are various activities that can obscure the link between meditation and cardiovascular health. For example, the researchers found that taking alcohol consumption and physical activity into account reduces the importance of the relationship between meditation and cardiovascular risk.
More research is needed
Taking all of these factors into account, the research team finally concludes that meditation is likely associated with a lower prevalence of cardiovascular risk. The results suggest that meditation can improve cardiovascular health, but more meaningful research (such as a clinical trial) is needed to clearly confirm the positive effects of meditation on cardiovascular health. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Zhen Wang, Bharat Narasimhan, Hani Jneid, Salim S. Virani, Glenn N Levine et al .: Meditation and Cardiovascular Health in the US, in American Journal of Cardiology (published June 30, 2020), American Journal of Cardiology