Meditation may be good for the heart
By Nicholas Bakalar
Meditation may be linked to a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, a new study suggests.
Researchers used data from a national survey conducted annually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, identifying all patients with high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, stroke and coronary artery disease and any who reported that they meditated. Of 61,267 people in the survey, there were 5,851 who participated in some form of meditation. The study is in the American Journal of Cardiology.
After controlling for age, sex, body mass index, marital status, smoking, sleep duration and depression, they found that meditating was associated with a 35% lower risk of high cholesterol, a 14% lower risk of high blood pressure, a 30% lower risk of diabetes, a 24% lower risk of stroke and a 49% lower risk of coronary artery disease.
The lead author, Dr. Chayakrit Krittanawong of the Baylor College of Medicine, said the reduction in stress that meditation can provide could at least partially explain the result. But he cautioned that the study is observational, and that clinical trials would be needed to determine the mechanism that explains the association. He added that the study did not distinguish between the many different kinds of meditation.
Still, he said, “I believe that any kind of meditation would have benefits for cardiovascular disease.