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Rigorous methods characterize new study on Transcendental Meditation and heart disease
by Global Good News staff writer
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27 November 2012
A study recently published in a journal* of the American Heart Association (AHA) and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (US) is one of the most rigorous and convincing studies done on Transcendental Meditation to date.
Robert Schneider, MD, FACC, Director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention and author of the book Total Heart Health, explained the methods of the study.
Subjects were both male and female, and averaged about 59 years old. They all had coronary artery disease as determined by coronary angiography, the gold standard in diagnosing the disease.
Dr Schneider said, 'In our study we focused on African Americans because in the United States they have amongst the highest rates—50% higher rates of death from heart disease—but [the findings] apply to all groups.'
Subjects were randomly assigned into the two groups. This configuration is the strongest scientific experimental design, Dr Schneider said.
One group was assigned to practise Transcendental Meditation for 20 minutes twice a day, while the control group was given a matched health education class with conventional instructions for diet and exercise. Dr Schneider pointed out that both groups received the same amount of attention.
'All the subjects continued their standard medical care,' he said. 'They all went to their doctors as normal and received standard medication and standard treatment, so this [practice of Transcendental Meditation] was on top of standard care.'
Subjects were followed on average for 5.4 years. During that time, the primary outcome was measured in what is called hard clinical events.
'That's a ''medicalese'' term,' explained Dr Schneider. 'In medicine, there are hard events and soft events. The hard events are ones that nobody can argue with. [For example] a person dies, they get a death certificate, they have a heart attack, or they have a stroke. That is really the most unequivocal evidence in cardiovascular science about what's happening to a person's cardiovascular system, whether it's functioning or not.'
In addition to these hard events, said Dr Schneider, 'we also looked at softer outcomes, like psychological stress and blood pressure, in support of these hard clinical statistics.'
See previous articles in this series:
∙ NIH-sponsored study finds Transcendental Meditation dramatically reduces death in heart disease patients
∙ Substantial support for research on Transcendental Meditation and heart disease: Maharishi University of Management
∙ What is heart disease and how can we reverse it? Lead author of new meditation study explains
* The study, 'Stress Reduction in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease', was published 13 November 2012 in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
Copyright © 2012 Global Good News Service
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