The American Heart Association (AHA) has just issued guidelines for the first time on meditation. Sitting practices such as zen, mindfulness and transcendental meditation were considered for their possible benefits in reducing the likelihood or burden of cardiovascular disease (Levine et al, Journal of American Heart Association, online Sept 28, 2017 ).
Most people need instruction and practice to master techniques that allow them to let go of internal dialog or anxiety. You can learn more about this topic from our interview with Dr. Murali Doraiswamy and Dr. Mitchell Gaynor.
Meditation Does Not Replace Medication:
While meditation is no substitute for appropriate medication and a healthful lifestyle, the AHA suggests that people who practice it may have lower blood pressure, less stress and an easier time quitting smoking. Meditation has a long history, low risks and little if any expense.
The studies on mindfulness and heart health have mostly been small. Consequently, the conclusions are provisional. Better designed studies are needed for doctors to be confident in recommending meditation.
Yoga and Tai Chi Help Heart Failure:
A recent review found that mind-body interventions, including yoga and tai chi, have modest but positive effects on outcomes for heart failure (Metin et al, Journal of Cardiac Failure, Sep. 19, 2017). Even a short-term yoga program can help reduce cardiovascular risk factors, including cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure (Yadav et al, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Sep. 2017).