17697Meditation can cut heart attacks by as much as half
- Jun 28 4:33 AMTranscendental meditation, the relaxation technique
made famous by the Beatles, can cut heart attack and
stroke death rates by up to 50%, new research has found.
The practice, which involves the continual repeating
of a mantra, was found to reduce high blood pressure,
cholesterol and thickening of the arteries. It is
also protects against diabetes.
"This is a seminal finding," said Dr Norman Rosenthal
of the American government's National Institute
of Mental Health.
"The prevention of heart attack and stroke and
actual lengthening of lifespan by an alternative
treatment method is exceedingly rare, if not unprecedented.
"If Transcendental Meditation were a drug conferring so many benefits, it would be a billion-dollar blockbuster."
Stress is a major factor in heart disease and
meditation experts say the technique can help control it.
Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin
followed 201 men and women with an average age of
59 who suffered from the narrowing of arteries in
their hearts for nine years.
Half of the group were taught Transcendental
Meditation along with their normal treatment
while the others just received advice on how
to modify their diets and exercise routines.
They found that those who regularly meditated
reduced their chances of dying or having a heart
attack or stroke by 47 per cent compared with
those who received traditional care.
In those who were particularly enthusiastic about
the meditation or unusually susceptible to stress,
the results were even stronger.
They showed a two-thirds reduction in chances
of dying during the trial.
Professor Theodore Kotchen, the co-author of
the £2.5 million trial, said: "These findings
are the strongest documented effects yet produced
by a mind-body intervention on cardiovascular disease.
"The effect is as large or larger than major
categories of drug treatment for cardiovascular disease."
"This study builds on previous research findings
showing that the Transcendental Meditation program
reduces high blood pressure, high cholesterol,
insulin resistance, psychological stress, and
atherosclerosis, and takes it to the next step
lower rates of death, heart attack, and stroke,"
explained Dr Robert Schneider, co-author.
The research was carried out in the African American
population but there is no reason that the same results
would not be repeated in the wider world.
Cardiovascular disease is Britain's biggest killer
accounting for almost 200,000 deaths a year.
The researchers said that meditation technique
should be used as a compliment to the usual drug
treatment and not as an alternative.
Transcendental meditation. which is based on an
ancient tradition of enlightenment in India, involves
sitting quietly and concentrating to focus the
mind inwards by silently repeating a mantra a word or phrase.
The practice, which is carried out for 20 minutes,
twice a day, is said to induce inner peace by allowing
thoughts to flow in and out of the mind.
It was popularised in the 1960s through the Beatles
who learnt the technique through their guru
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
The study was due to appear in Archives of Internal
Medecine but last night its editor said publication
was being delayed while last minute data provided by
the research team was analysed.
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