Using mindfulness to reduce cardiovascular risk
Just in case you are not convinced that mindfulness and meditation is good for you, such as mental resilience, stress management…. (find more benefits here), we came across another reason published by the American Heart Association (AHA) a few days ago.
In a Scientific Statement1 published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA), the AHA has recommended meditation as a risk reduction strategy for cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks, which remain as one of our society’s biggest killers and cost to our quality of lives.
This is a systematic review or meta analysis (a way to rigorously and scientifically review all the available literature on a subject with the quality of those studies being taken into consideration) conducted by AHA to review the data on the potential impact of meditation on cardiovascular risk. It is based on the numerous studies reporting neurophysiological and neuroanatomical (how the brain/ mind impacts the physical body) demonstrating the benefit of mindfulness on various physiology or how our body functions normally.
Some of those functions included, “physiological response to stress, smoking cessation, blood pressure reduction, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, endothelial function, inducible myocardial ischemia, and primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease”1.
The meta analysis found an overall possible benefit of meditation on cardiovascular risk, especially taken into consideration of its low cost and risks compared to traditional therapies such as stenting and surgery (mindfulness can also have side effects as we have discussed previously and you can find out more about it as well as how to manage it here).
AHA recommends meditation be used in conjunction with other therapies as well as other lifestyle modifications, e.g. diet and physical exercise. So in essence we are adding mental exercises (mindfulness and meditation) to physical exercises as our arsenal of tools to combat this disease which remains as a leading cause of death and disability!
So please get started with the following tips:
Happy practising and you can read the original publication here, where you will find all the detailed data such as the changes in blood pressure, atherosclerotic risk changes, metabolism and insulin secretion, inflammation and secondary CVD prevention risks.
Levine, G N et al, Meditation and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association, Journal of the American Heart Association, 2017;6:e002218.