Home » Heart Health » Does meditation reduce risk of heart disease?
A number of studies have found that meditation may help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve heart rate variability, all of which are factors that can contribute to the development of heart disease. According to a statement from the American Heart Association, studies on meditation suggest it has many possible benefits in reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems.
Meditation is an ancient practice with a long history of providing mental and physical benefits. Meditation has been widely embraced in the past few years as an effective way to reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Additionally, in spite of advances in the prevention and treatment Heart disease it continues to be the leading cause of mortality globally. This emphasises the importance of many new, low-cost methods for primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. With research showing that there is a positive link between meditation and heart health, this practice has emerged as an inexpensive and widely accessible tool for reducing cardiovascular risk.
Meditation is an age-old practice but has gained massive popularity in recent years. The earliest records of meditation date back to 1500 BCE. Meditation is a mindfulness practice that helps practitioners achieve mental focus, a sense of calm, and a mind-body connection. Meditation is typically practised in a seated, comfortable position, with your eyes closed. There are many ways in which one can practice meditation, the most popular being to focus on your every breath, a mental image, or the repetition of a word or phrase (mantra). This attempts to quiet the mind and thoughts and relax the body. Below are some of the meditation style examples for your reference.
The American Journal of Cardiology (Ref.Link) found that meditation is associated with a lower prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and disease. The table below (Ref.Link) details the meditation name and findings on previous meditation studies involving autonomic nervous responses.
In a five-year study, 201 patients with coronary heart disease were advised to practice transcendental meditation (a meditation technique where you chant a mantra in your head) for 5 days. According to the researchers this reduced the risk of death, heart attack, and stroke by 48%. Regular practice of meditation improves Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and increases vagal tone. HRV is a measurement of the heart’s ability to adapt between beats and a higher HRV is associated with a healthier heart, whereas a low HRV is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Meditation activates our bodies’ parasympathetic nervous system (“rest-and-digest” functions), which counteracts our sympathetic nervous system (“flight-or-fight” responses). Meditation reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke by activating the parasympathetic system, increasing HRV, vagal tone, and reducing blood pressure.
The British Heart Foundation (Ref.Link) has shared a simple, six minute meditation guide to help you get you started. The audio will guide you through some easy breathing techniques, helping you relax and focus on the present moment. You will need to find a quiet room where you won’t be interrupted, sit comfortably on a chair or on the floor, and play the audio that you can access here.
A Lancet study revealed a correlation between stress and heart attacks. Chronic stress leads to high blood pressure which is a major risk factor for heart disease. Stress may also contribute to other cardiovascular risk factors like smoking, overeating, and a lack of physical activity. Meditation helps lower your cortisol levels (stress hormones) and reduces blood pressure. It restores the body to a state of calm, allowing the body to repair itself and prevent further physical damage caused by stress.
Anxiety puts more strain on your heart, and the physical symptoms of anxiety are worse in individuals with existing cardiac disease. Anxiety causes Cardiac arrhythmias like Tachycardia (rapid heart rate) or Bradycardia (slow heart rate). Meditating by focusing on breathing and bringing attention to the present moment reduces anxiety. All these findings were corroborated by a recent study conducted at Yale University.
Meditation has many physical and mental benefits.
Although meditation is a great tool for many, there are few things to consider before starting meditation:
Finally, pair your practice of meditation with the use of a heart monitoring device to know exactly how you’re impacting your heart. Purchase the revolutionary Frontier X2 smart heart monitor and be on your way to a healthier tomorrow.
Meditation reduces stress and anxiety, decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke by lowering HRV, and lowers blood pressure, thereby promoting a healthy heart.
Mindfulness meditation (which involves paying attention to one’s thoughts) and transcendental meditation (mantra chanting) have been shown to be the most effective forms of meditation for reducing cardiovascular risk.
Meditation requires neither expensive equipment nor formal instruction. You can begin by sitting comfortably at home and focusing on your breathing, a mental image, or the repetition of a mantra ( a word or a phrase).
While meditation can be a helpful complement to traditional medical treatment, it should not be used as a replacement for medical care. It’s important to follow the recommendations of your healthcare provider and to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any symptoms of a heart condition.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Some people find that daily meditation is most beneficial, while others may find that meditating a few times a week is enough. It’s important to listen to your body and find a schedule that works for you.
Meditation is generally considered to be safe, but it’s important to be mindful of any physical discomfort or emotional distress that may arise during or after a meditation session. If you experience any unusual symptoms or distress, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider or mental health professional.
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