Meditation may improve your heart health, VA study finds

Julia LeDoux
July 29, 2020 - 9:54 am
Meditate

Department of Veterans Affairs

Meditation may lower your cardiovascular risk.

That’s according to a study from the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center published in the June 30 online edition of the "American Journal of Cardiology."

Lead researcher Dr. Chayakrit Krittanawong — of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Baylor College of Medicine, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai — and his colleagues studied data from the National Health Interview Survey, The annual survey by the National Center for Health Statistics collects information on a wide range of health topics from a nationally representative sample.

“I believe in meditation, as it can give us a sense of calm, peace and stress reduction, leading to improvement of our emotional well-being,” said Krittanawong.

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The researchers examined data from more than 61,000 survey participants. Of those, almost 6,000 said they participated in some form of meditation.

The researchers found that those 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.

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.

Krittanawong noted several limitations in the study.  It did not capture what type of meditation people were using. The survey also did not ask about the duration or intensity of that meditation.

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Also, the researchers cannot definitively say that meditation directly decreases cardiovascular risk. It could be that people who are in better cardiovascular health to begin with are more likely to practice meditation, rather than the other way around.

The study authors are from the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Baylor College of Medicine, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the Cleveland Clinic, and the Mayo Clinic

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.

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