(NaturalNews) Transcendental Meditation (TM) first became well-known in the U.S. during the 1960s when the Beatles showed interest in studying the stress-reducing technique. But meditation hasn't gone the way of love beads and flower power since then. In fact, various techniques, including TM, have received serious scientific scrutiny and researchers have documented many health benefits of meditation.
Now a $3.8 million study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has reached a first-ever finding: patients with coronary heart disease who practiced TM had a nearly 50 percent lower rate of heart attack, stroke, and death compared to a matched group that didn't meditate.
The results of the study, which was conducted at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee in collaboration with the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, were presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Florida. "Previous research on Transcendental Meditation has shown reductions in blood pressure, psychological stress, and other risk factors for heart disease, irrespective of ethnicity," Robert Schneider, M.D., the study's lead author and director of the Center for Natural Medicine and Prevention, said in a statement to the media. "But this is the first controlled clinical trial to show that long-term practice of this particular stress reduction program reduces the incidence of clinical cardiovascular events, that is heart attacks, strokes and mortality."
The randomized controlled trial followed 201 African American men and women for nine years. The research subjects had an average age of 59 and all were diagnosed with narrowing of arteries in their hearts. The study participants continued taking their regular medications and continued other usual medical care during the study. But half were randomly assigned to a group that practiced stress reducing TM and the other half were placed in a non-meditating group that received health education classes covering standard cardiovascular risk factors.
In addition to a dramatic reduction in the risk of death, heart attacks, and strokes in the TM group, the researchers found a clinically significant reduction in blood pressure. Mediation also reduced psychological stress in a sub-group of patients who were experiencing high levels of anxiety and other signs of stress.
"This study is an example of the contribution of a lifestyle intervention -- stress management -- to the prevention of cardiovascular disease in high-risk patients," Theodore Kotchen, M.D., co-author of the study and associate dean for clinical research at the Medical College, said in the press statement.