Meditation for heart health may reduce risk of heart disease, says the AHA
Meditation has long been considered a healthy lifestyle practice.
Many people swear by its ability to reduce daily stress, and improve all around health.
Among many of meditation’s uses, meditation for heart health has long been practiced. Meditation is believed by many to be a strong supplement to modern medicines.
Recently the American Heart Association (AHA) has reviewed dozens of studies on how meditation impacts heart health.
This report supports the ideas that many have long believed regarding the healing effects of meditation.
With more than $200 billion spent annually on heart disease, it would certainly serve humanity well to find inexpensive, healthy, and readily available alternatives to the modern medicine.
By helping to avoid stress, and many other common diseases and risk factors, is science finally catching on to the ancient healing properties meditation has?
Meditation for Heart Health: A Statement by the AHA-
In a journal released in 2017, the American Heart Association studied the benefits of meditation on cardiovascular disease.
In their release the AHA, for the first time, has issued a statement in regards to meditation, and heart health.
“Neurophysiological and neuroanatomical studies demonstrate that meditation can have long-standing effects on the brain, which provide some biological plausibility for beneficial consequences on the physiological basal state and on cardiovascular risk”Meditation and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association
The experts at the AHA have reviewed dozens of studies which were conducted on meditation.
The studies reviewed covered multiple forms of meditation and their effects on heart disease risk factors, and the recovery time of those that had suffered effects from heart disease (i.e. heart attacks).
The risk factors studied included:
- high blood pressure
- and atherosclerosis.
The breaking review set forth by the AHA is an innovative scientific review, that incorporates long held beliefs about meditation’s healthful benefits, with a modern scientific, fact based view.
The AHA’s new finding may be a window into an entirely new field of medical developments when it comes to improving the health of the heart that can may help people in all walks of life.
The Conclusions of the Review-
For many years it has been speculated that mediation for heart health may be a possible alternative to modern standardized medicines. The new findings by the AHA show support for this ideology.
Dr. Glenn Levine, Chair of the American College of Cardiology task force on clinical practice guidelines, says that the studies have shown encouraging results.
Dr. Levine also suggests that the data is not yet conclusive enough for a justified recommendation for the treatment of meditation for heart disease.
For now, he suggests that mediation for heart health can be considered as a supplemental to the standard treatments available.
Though the results were promising, Dr. Levine’s group still encourages existing treatments other than meditation for heart disease, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and lowering cholesterol.
“Our clear message is that meditation may be a reasonable (additional) intervention, but we specifically do not want people to rely on meditation or other such adjunctive interventions in place of proven therapies”https://time.com/4959725/meditation-heart-disease-stress/
States Dr. Levine,
“Meditation should be considered as a potential lifestyle modification, but should not be used to replace standard and proven treatments such as smoking cessation, blood pressure control and treatment of high cholesterol levels”https://newsarchive.heart.org/meditation-may-decrease-risk-heart-disease/
Most of the studies conducted were of relatively small groups, most without relative control groups.
Many of the studies covered the effects of meditation on reducing several of the factors common in heart disease, such as meditation and lower blood pressure.
Both of these factors are widely suggestive as risk factors in heart disease, despite the small groups and lack of controls in the studies.
The studies do suggest that meditation can reduce stress and blood pressure, which are both considered strong risk factors in heart disease.
Addressing stress concerns can reduce stress hormones which have been linked to higher risks of heart attack. Lowering blood pressure can also damper the risk of general heart disease.
What You Can Take from the Report
Meditation, can be included as part of your daily heart-healthy strategy, so long as you understand that the data has not yet conclusively proven that mediation for heart health has tangible benefits.
Though meditation for heart disease does not appear to be a cure all, the report put forth by the AHA certainly suggests that it may have strong benefits as part of a daily routine.
Not only by possibly reducing stress and lowering blood pressure, but also by encouraging a more mindful, healthful lifestyle.
As with many holistic treatments for disease, it can be very difficult to prove whether meditation for heart health is effective, or just how effective it may be.
The AHA and Dr. Levine, state in the report that they believe that people interested in improving their heart’s health should certainly consider meditation for heart health. So long as they are also including other “scientifically proven” techniques to reducing risk of heart disease.
Levine says they are extremely encouraged by the findings. And that more studies will be necessary to definitely prove that the practice of meditation for heart health, works.
Meditation to Improve Health and Well being
Meditation, and mindfulness practices have been long touted by many as a means to all around improve health.
These practices come in a variety of forms including:
- sustained focus on an image or sound
- and quiet contemplation
Meditation, and mindfulness practices can help you to feel more calm and to let go of stress.
Harmful Effects of Stress
Stress in a way acts as your bodies alarm system.
Stress causes adrenaline to be released into your body which in turn can:
- speed up your heart rate
- raise blood pressure
- and cause breathing to become more rapid
These natural processes are often refereed to as the fight or flight reaction, which is useful when you need to get away from danger or fight off an attacker.
However, stress can take a toll on your body if it occurs too often or for long periods of time.
Meditation, and mindfulness practices help to reduce the occurrence, and duration of stress which can help prevent diseases that stress can cause.
According to the AHA, several studies suggest a range of healing benefits.
The benefits of meditation appear to include:
- an increased ability to process information
- slowed cognitive effects of aging
- reduced inflammation
- support of the immune system
- reduced symptoms of menopause
- a controlled response to pain
- and improved sleep
Types of Meditation or Heart Health.
There are many forms of meditation including:
- compassion or metta
- insight or Vipassana
- and many more.
Mediation can be as simple as sitting in a quiet space and focusing on your breathing. As your mind wanders simply bring your focus back to your breathing.
As you practice you will gradually increase the length of time you are able to focus on your breathing.
Perhaps the most popular form of meditation is transcendental meditation.
What is transcendental meditation?
Transcendental mediation was made popular by American authors Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
This form of meditation is a practice that allows you to focus inward on yourself.
The technique, when practiced, allows you be to mindful of the thoughts going through your mind and the sounds from your outside environment. All without directly engaging with the stimulus.
Typically done in a seated position with your eyes closed for 20 minutes, practiced twice a day.
Another form of meditation, called mindfulness meditation, can use an object, sound, or thought to focus on.
Rather than focusing on no thought in general like transcendental meditation, you focus on one thought, sound, or phrase.
Each of these forms of meditation appear to reduce stress, and lower blood pressure. They train you to be more aware of your thoughts, surroundings, and actions.
If done daily, meditation can be very transformative.
Strong evidence shows that meditation for heart health as a daily practice can reduce the risk factors associated with heart disease. Such as stress and high blood pressure.
Reducing these risk factors for heart disease through mediation may promote heart health, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
The AHA suggests adding meditation to your daily routines as an easy, low-cost preventative to heart disease.
Though the AHA in their new report found that meditation for heart health appears to be effective. They say you should be mindful to continue using time proven methods of heart disease prevention such as: losing weight, quitting smoking and lowering cholesterol.
With this recent study, we are one step closer to having proof of what has long been speculated about meditation and improvements to our daily lives and bodies.