hardening of arteries
to relax and reduce stress through meditation, specifically
Transcendental Meditation, may reduce atherosclerosis--and risk
of heart attack and stroke--according to findings published
in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.
is the first controlled study to suggest that stress reduction
by itself can reduce atherosclerosis without changes in diet
and exercise, according to a team of researchers from UCLA and
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles
University of Management (M.U.M.) College of Maharishi Vedic
Medicine in Fairfield, Iowa.
is the hardening of the arteries accompanied by the buildup
of fat deposits in the artery walls. It leads to cardiovascular
disease (CVD), the number one cause of death for all Americans.
CVD is particularly lethal to African Americans, who are twice
as likely to die from the illness as whites.
study was supported by a grant from the National Heart, Lung
and Blood Institute and was conducted at Drew University in
collaboration with the M.U.M. Center for Natural Medicine and
African Americans who were at risk for cardiovascular disease
were randomly assigned to the Transcendental Meditation program
or to a health education control group. Sixty men and women
volunteers completed pretests and posttests over an average
intervention period of about seven months. The level of fatty
substances deposited on participants' arterial walls, or carotid
intima-media thickness (IMT), was evaluated by ultrasound. IMT
is a widely used surrogate measure of coronary atherosclerosis
and a predictor of heart attack and stroke.
practicing meditation showed a decrease of 0.098mm in IMT wall
thickness, whereas participants in the health education control
group showed an increase of 0.054mm. Based on two previous clinical
observations, a 0.1mm decrease in IMT would indicate an approximate
11 percent decrease in risk of heart attack and a 7.7 percent
to 15 percent reduction in risk of stroke.
reductions found in the meditation group were comparable to
those achieved by lipid-lowering medications and intensive lifestyle
modification programs. There was no significant difference in
baseline characteristics, intervention duration or attrition
between the two groups.
Schneider, M.D., second author of the study and director of
the NIH- sponsored Center for Natural Medicine and Prevention
(CNMP) at the College of Maharishi Vedic Medicine, states, "Cardiovascular
disease is associated with psychological stress. Previous research
has found that the TM program decreases coronary heart disease
risk factors, including hypertension, oxidized lipids, stress
hormones and psychological stress, and is associated with reduced
cardiovascular disease and death in African Americans and the
together, these and other findings suggest that the distinct
state of 'restful alertness' gained during the TM technique
may be triggering self- repair homeostatic mechanisms in the
body, which lead to the regression of atherosclerosis," says