(NaturalNews) There are a number of proven natural alternatives to reducing your risk of heart attack, but one of the most effective to do that, new research has shown, is through meditation.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, meditation through the continuous repetition of a mantra, can reduce high blood pressure, thickening of the arteries and cholesterol. Researchers say it can even help protect against diabetes.
"This is a seminal finding," said Dr. Norman Rosenthal, of the NIMH.
"The prevention of heart attack and stroke and actual lengthening of lifespan by an alternative treatment method is exceedingly rare, if not unprecedented," he said. "If Transcendental Meditation were a drug conferring so many benefits, it would be a billion-dollar blockbuster."
The reason why meditation is so effective, say researchers, is because it is a primary catalyst in reducing stress, a condition known to create or contribute to a host of medical problems.
Scientists and researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin followed 201 African-American men and women who averaged 59 years old and who had been suffering with arterial narrowing for nine years. Half the group received instruction in Transcendental Meditation in combination with their regular treatment, while the other half was given advice on modifying their diets and exercise regimens.
Those who meditated did so for 20 minutes twice a day.
The study found that those who meditated were 47 percent less likely of dying or of having a heart attack or stroke, compared with those who were treated traditionally.
Participants who were especially enthusiastic about the meditation or who experienced higher-than-normal stress levels, the end results were even more dramatic, researchers said.
"These findings are the strongest documented effects yet produced by a mind-body intervention on cardiovascular disease," said Prof. Theodore Kotchen, co-author of the study. "The effect is as large or larger than major categories of drug treatment for cardiovascular disease."
Added co-author Dr. Robert Schneider: "This study builds on previous research findings showing that the Transcendental Meditation program reduces high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, psychological stress, and atherosclerosis, and takes it to the next step - lower rates of death, heart attack, and stroke."
Though the study was limited to African-American participants, the researchers said there is no reason not to expect similar results for all people.