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Scientists develop ways to track reduction of six risk factors
by Carolyn Gaylord-King, PhD and Kenneth G. Walton, PhD

American Society of Hypertension (ASH) and ISHIB (The International Society on Hypertension in Blacks)    Translate This Article
7 July 2006

These two papers were presented at the 21st International Interdisciplinary Conference on Hypertension and Related Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Ethnic Populations in Atlanta, Georgia, USA by Maharishi University of Management faculty Carolyn Gaylord-King, PhD and Kenneth G. Walton, PhD, showed that Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation technique helped reduce six risk factors of heart disease.

Gaylord-King, Walton, and colleagues first developed a measuring stick for metabolic syndrome and then used the measure to determine benefits of behavioural techniques to reduce metabolic syndrome in a highrisk population.

Termed the composite syndrome index, the measure is a way of combining information into a single number that is highly correlated with each of the six risk factor components of the syndrome: waist circumference, and the levels of triglycerides, HDL-C (highdensity lipoprotein cholesterol), fasting glucose, and systolic and diastolic blood pressures. The method of calculating the index was based on the study of Pladevall and colleagues indicating the existence of a single latent factor underlying the metabolic syndrome.

Dr. Walton said: 'This composite syndrome index was developed as a research tool for comparing different interventions and different subgroups of patients. Additional research is needed to determine its potential usefulness in the treatment of individual patients.'

To develop the correlation between the risk factors and the composite index, the researchers studied 200 inner-city African American women at high-risk for cardiovascular disease.

Of the 200 participants, 128 were obese and 98 (49%) met the criteria for metabolic syndrome as set by National Cholesterol Education Program - Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP ATP III) standard criteria. In the second part of their study, Walton and colleagues examined the effects of two behavioural interventions on the composite index of metabolic syndrome.

Participants were 81 African American women from the first part of the study who had metabolic syndrome with uncontrolled blood pressure despite medications. Patients were randomly assigned to a group receiving Transcendental Meditation (TM) instruction and a group receiving a time-and-attention matched health education programme.

Measurements on the six risk factors described above were taken before and after one year of these programmes.

During the TM technique, thinking processes become less active and a state of 'restful alertness' appears to be gained that frees the mind/body of stressful experiences. For those in group 2, the health education components included detailed information on the risk factors for heart disease and stroke, elaborate training on appropriate exercises, and extensive instructions on selecting and preparing healthy foods.

Both groups experienced lower rates for many of the individual risk factors of metabolic syndrome. For those receiving health education, declines were seen in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and fasting glucose levels. TM group participants had declines in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, triglyceride levels, fasting glucose levels, waist circumference, and an increase in the 'good' cholesterol (HDL-C).

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