According to The Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 40% more likely to have high blood pressure when compared to their non-Hispanic white counterparts. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart attack, among other cardiovascular diseases. Suffering a heart attack can be a devastating event in ones’ life, it can possibly be fatal. This is why heart attack prevention should be a concern, especially for this high risk population. One step for heart attack prevention is maintaining a healthy blood pressure. This will not only help to prevent a heart attack, but will also provide other good health benefits.
Researchers at Georgia Health Sciences University studied 62 black teens that suffered from high blood pressure. Half of the teens were taught Transcendental Meditation (TM) and were to meditate for 15 minutes in a class and then meditate for 15 minutes at home over a four month period. The other half of the teens in the study were given health education on ways in which to lower blood pressure and lower their risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack; these teens did not participate in the meditation. The results showed that the teens who meditated twice a day had lower left ventricular mass than those teens who did not meditate. A higher mass of the left ventricular of the heart is due to the increased workload on the heart when a person has high blood pressure. Left ventricular mass is an indicator of future cardiovascular disease, including heart attack. The researchers note that statistics show that 1 in 10 black youths suffer from high blood pressure. If meditation is practiced over time, it may reduce the risk of these teens developing cardiovascular disease in the future and it may prevent them from suffering a life-altering heart attack.
In addition to heart attack prevention, transcendental meditation also has an array of other good health benefits. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) reports that the good health benefits of TM include: reduced chronic pain, reduced anxiety, lowered blood pressure and lowered cholesterol. In addition to these good health benefits, the NCCAM reports that TM also decreases the burden on the health care system as people who meditate use other health care services less often. The NCCAM reports that individuals use TM in an effort to promote overall good health. Additionally, people use TM to cope with: anxiety, pain, depression, stress, insomnia and other chronic health conditions.
Based on the findings of this study, TM looks like it may play a role in heart attack prevention. If parents begin TM with their children, and the children continue the meditation routine throughout their life, the risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease including heart attack may be reduced. In addition, meditation can also help deal with other health conditions and can lead to many good health benefits. Adding in meditation a couple of time per day is an easy step to add to a heart attack prevention plan.
Future research should look at other demographic populations to see if the cardiovascular benefits from TM are sustained in all populations.