High blood pressure can be lowered with meditation according to recent research. A new study by Veterans Affairs showed that meditation was linked to lower cardiovascular risk. The results appeared online in the American Journal of Cardiology.
Previous Studies on Benefits of Meditation
Previous studies have suggested that meditation may have beneficial effects on a number of conditions.
• A 2017 American Heart Association scientific statement suggests that meditation may be of benefit for cardiovascular risk reduction.
• Data show that it may help with blood pressure, cholesterol level, quitting smoking, and overall cardiovascular health.
• However, this connection is far from definitive.
By using a large national database with many participants, the authors of the new study sought further evidence on how meditation impacts cardiovascular risk.
New Research on High Blood Pressure and Meditation
Lead researcher Dr. Chayakrit Krittanawong of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center studied data from the National Health Interview Survey, conducted annually by the National Center for Health Statistics. It collects information on a wide range of health topics from a nationally representative sample.
The researchers controlled for other factors connected to cardiovascular risk, such as age, sex, cigarette smoking, and body mass index. After adjusting for these factors, the effect of meditation was still significant.
• The researchers looked at data on more than 61,000 survey participants. Of those, almost 6,000 (nearly 10%) said they participated in some form of meditation.
• They found that people who meditated had lower rates of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and coronary artery disease, compared with those who did not meditate.
• The greatest difference was in coronary artery disease. Those who meditated were 51% as likely as those who didn’t to have the disease.
• The prevalence of other cardiovascular risks in the meditation group compared with the non-meditation group was 65% for high cholesterol, 70% for diabetes, 76% for stroke, and 86% for high blood pressure.
Study author Krittanawong says that meditation has been shown to increase physical and mental relaxation. It can yield a sense of calm, peace, and stress reduction, leading to improvement of our emotional well-being.
Practicing meditation has been linked to decreased stress, greater mindfulness, and improved psychological health. It may even lead to long-term functional and anatomical changes in the brain. Meditation is also simple, cost-effective, and low-risk.
Other life activities might also obscure the link between meditation and cardiovascular health. The researchers found factoring in alcohol consumption and physical activity lowered the significance of the relationship between meditation and cardiovascular risk.
Even considering all these factors, the researchers concluded that meditation is “probably” associated with lower prevalence of cardiovascular risk. This study adds to a growing body of research on the potential benefits of meditation.
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