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Physicians recommend Transcendental Meditation for prevention, treatment of cardiovascular disease
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16 January 2011
Two eminent physicians discuss research demonstrating beneficial effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
César Molina, M.D., F.A.C.C.,* and Robert Schneider, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.B.M.R.,** give comprehensive answers to questions on this topic on the Ask the Doctors website.
Q: How can the Transcendental Meditation technique affect the physical risk factors for atherosclerosis, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and insulin resistance?
Dr. Molina: The Transcendental Meditation technique, even though it is a mental technique, brings about a unique neuro-psycho-physiological state. Those changes in the physiology lead to a drop in cholesterol and a drop in blood pressure. When you lower your blood pressure and your cholesterol, you decrease your risk of atherosclerosis. Studies have shown that patients with coronary heart disease who practice the Transcendental Meditation technique have less angina. On an exercise stress test, subjects practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique also demonstrate an increased capacity to exercise, associated with decreased ischemia, or coronary artery insufficiency.
It's also important to recognize that high blood pressure, diabetes and tobacco use are the three most important risk factors for heart disease. At the same time, high blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke. The Transcendental Meditation technique has been shown to decrease both the systolic and the diastolic blood pressure, but it particularly decreases the systolic blood pressure, which is most related to increased risk for stroke. It's also the one that is not well-treated by the present pharmacologic therapy for high blood pressure.
The Transcendental Meditation technique has also been shown to reduce insulin resistance, which is considered to be a very important risk factor for diabetes, hypertension and coronary heart disease.
Dr. Schneider: It's true that atherosclerosis is caused by a variety of risk factors, such as high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance. In addition there are underlying biochemical imbalances due to free radicals or oxidative stress. Research has shown that chronic stress contributes to the development and progression of atherosclerosis directly and by increasing just about every other risk factor for heart disease. The effects of chronic stress are mediated by stress hormones such as cortisol and by the sympathetic nervous system, which releases adrenaline and noradrenalin.
Research on the Transcendental Meditation program has shown that it decreases most of the major risk factors for atherosclerosis [heart disease]—psychological stress, high blood pressure, smoking, cholesterol, oxidized lipids, and insulin resistance. At the level of neurohormones, there are reductions in stress hormones and sympathetic nervous system disorders. The neuro-endocrine and cardiovascular changes are likely the result of greater orderliness and balance in the central nervous system.
Besides reduction in cardiovascular risk factors, research has shown reductions in narrowing of the arteries (regression of atherosclerosis), reduced hypertrophy of the heart (left ventricular hypertrophy), and reductions in mortality from heart disease and other causes. So this is a well-established sequence of events whereby transcending through the Transcendental Meditation technique leads to greater heart health.
Click here for more about related scientific research.
* César Molina, M.D., F.A.C.C., is Medical Director of the South Asian Heart Center at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, California, USA. He is a graduate of Yale University School of Medicine and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology. Dr. Molina has recently appeared in the international edition of CNN discussing the benefits of diet and exercise in the treatment and prevention of coronary heart disease.
** Robert Schneider, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.B.M.R., has been awarded more than $20 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US for his pioneering research on natural approaches to heart disease. Dr. Schneider is the author of Total Heart Health and 100 medical research articles, and he has been featured in more than 1,000 media reports, including CNN Headline News, The New York Times, and Time magazine.
© Copyright 2011 American Association of Physicians Practicing the Transcendental Meditation Technique
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