For mind and heart

Does mental relaxation through transcendental meditation have physiological benefits? A study presented at an American Heart Association meeting in Orlando suggests that it may, at least in the case of people with established coronary artery disease.

Researchers followed about 200 high-risk patients for an average of five years. Among the 100 who meditated, there were 20 heart attacks, strokes and deaths; in the comparison group, there were 32. The meditators tended to remain disease-free longer and also reduced their systolic blood pressure.

“We found reduced blood pressure that was significant — that was probably one important mediator,” said Dr. Robert Schneider, director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention, Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield. He suggested that the stress reduction produced by the meditation could cause changes in the brain that cut stress hormones such as cortisol and dampen the inflammatory processes associated with atherosclerosis.

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