Archive for December, 2019

New study shows Transcendental Meditation prevents abnormal enlargement of the heart, reduces chronic heart failure risk

December 26, 2019

A randomized controlled study recently published in the Hypertension issue of Ethnicity & Disease found the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique helps prevent abnormal enlargement of the heart compared to health education (HE) controls. Also known as left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), it can lead to chronic heart failure and death. It is twice as prevalent among African Americans. LVH and CVD death rates are double in African Americans compared to whites, possibly due to psychosocial stress. EurekAlert! Press Release

Changes in Left Ventricle Mass Index (LVMI) between the TM and HE Groups after 6 Months

After six months, the control group showed nearly 10% progression of abnormal heart enlargement (LVMI) while the TM group maintained their baseline level of heart size.

Transcendental Meditation prevents abnormal enlargement of the heart, reduces chronic heart failure risk

A randomized controlled study recently published in Ethnicity & Disease in their Autumn 2019 Hypertension issue found that the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique helps to prevent abnormal enlargement of the heart compared to health education (HE) controls. Also known as left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), it can lead to chronic heart failure and death, and is especially prevalent among African Americans.

Risk factor for cardiovascular disease

Despite advances in medical care, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the USA. Abnormal enlargement of heart, medically known as left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), is an important risk factor for CVD. It doubles the risk of heart attacks, arrhythmias, stroke, heart failure, and death from CVD.

Heart disease death rates are significantly higher in African Americans than in whites, in part because the rate of LVH is double in African Americans compared to whites.

The disproportionately high rates are suggested to be associated with the burden of psychosocial stress.

A recent scientific statement from the American Heart Association emphasized the potential for stress-reduction methods to prevent heart disease and premature mortality in African Americans.

Prevented further heart enlargement

The trial included 85 African Americans with high blood pressure who were randomly assigned to Transcendental Meditation or to a health education (HE) control group, in addition to usual medical care.

This trial tested the effects of stress-reducing meditation to prevent LVH in this high-risk population. It found that stress reduction with TM practice prevented heart enlargement in hypertensive African American patients.

After six months, the control group showed nearly 10% progression of abnormal heart enlargement while the TM group maintained their baseline level of heart size.

The findings of this study suggest that TM practice is an effective nondrug method for preventing heart enlargement in African American hypertensives who are especially at high risk of developing associated CVD.

“This is a form of heart disease where nondrug treatments are relatively understudied,” said Professor Robert Schneider, MD, FACC, first author. “Since the physiology of stress contributes to cardiac enlargement, we hypothesized that managing one’s mind-body connection with Transcendental Meditation might prevent the disease process.”

Use of echocardiography to detect hypertrophy

Echocardiography is a noninvasive diagnostic test that uses ultrasound waves to create an image of the heart muscle. Ultrasound waves that rebound or echo off the heart can show the size, shape, and movement of the heart’s valves and chambers as well as the flow of blood through the heart. It can therefore be used to detect heart chamber or wall enlargement known as hypertrophy.

Echocardiography was issued at the start of the study to both TM and HE groups. After six months of practice, repeat testing with echocardiography found that the HE control group progressed on cardiac enlargement while the TM group prevented further enlargement. There was a significant change in left ventricle mass index (LVMI) between the groups after the six-month intervention.

11% reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality

Komal Marwaha, M.D., Ph.D., coauthor of the study and an associate professor in the Department of Physiology and Health at MIU, Maharishi International University (formerly Maharishi University of Management) worked on this research as part of her doctoral thesis.

“By preventing left ventricle mass index progression in the present study, TM may reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality associated with LVH,” she said. “Patients randomized to practicing the TM technique in the current study had an estimated 11 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality and an 8 percent reduced risk of all-cause mortality compared with the control group.”

Dr. Schneider, dean of MIU’s College of Integrative Medicine, said these reductions are significant. “These results suggest that an effective technique for stress reduction may prevent the progression of left ventricular hypertrophy and thereby help to prevent premature heart disease and cardiac mortality.”

Keith Norris, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine at UCLA, and one of the study’s co-authors, added: “We hope these findings will lead to more investigations into nondrug interventions for the prevention and early intervention of heart disease that are sorely needed given the high cost of health care in our nation and the impact of health care cost on low income and disproportionately minority communities.”

The research was conducted in conjunction with Martin Luther King Hospital and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, and was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Possible study limitations

Of the 85 original subjects, roughly 50% in each group were available for the final echocardiograph tests after the 6-month study period. The high attrition might have reduced power for some of the findings.

However, the attrition was not significantly different between the TM and the HE groups, thus reducing potential subject bias in the final sample. Moreover, the attritors and completers were not significantly different in demographic or physiological characteristics at baseline that prevented the occurrence of systematically biased treatment outcomes. No record of compliance for home TM practice was collected. However, the record of meeting attendance was significantly higher in the TM (80.6%) as compared with HE (50.2%) group (P=.001).

###

Ethnicity & Disease: Original Reports: Cardiovascular Disease and Risk Factors Vol 29, No 4 (2019): Stress Reduction in the Prevention of Left Ventricular Hypertrophy: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Transcendental Meditation and Health Education in Hypertensive African Americans, Robert H. Schneider, Hector F. Myers, Komal Marwaha, Maxwell A. Rainforth, John W. Salerno, Sanford I. Nidich, Carolyn Gaylord-King, Charles N. Alexander, Keith C. Norris Ethn Dis. 2019;29(4):577-586; doi:10.18865/ed.29.4.577. Also listed on PubMed.

Related: PET scans show Transcendental Meditation with cardiac rehabilitation increases blood flow to the heart | Transcendental Meditation may reduce death, heart attack and stroke in heart patients—AHA

News coverage has been positive. The press release has been posted on medical news sites around the world. Johny Fernandez at CBS News in New York puts out a MedDay report on the top health stories in the news and included ours. It was picked up by KOLR 10 CBS News in Springfield, MO, on MedDay – December 27, 2019, and included in their Health and Medical segment. I cued up the video from their YouTube site. It’s also on their OzarksFirst site. It starts at 40 seconds in.

The January 4, 2020 issue of Enjoy TM News published: New Study: TM Technique Effective in Preventing Abnormal Heart Enlargement and Reducing Heart Failure. Risk factor for cardiovascular disease reduced.

Jan 7, 2020, Medical Research published a Q&A with Dr. Schneider: Transcendental Meditation To Reduce LVH in African Americans.

January 24, 2020, Thrive Global published: Manage Your Mind to Manage Your Heart: Why Transcendental Meditation is Vital for Heart Health. Research studies show regular TM practice reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease. By Robert Schneider, M.D., FACC, Dean, College of Integrative Medicine, Maharishi International University.

PET scans show Transcendental Meditation with cardiac rehabilitation increases blood flow to the heart

December 5, 2019

EurekAlert! Summary: Study finds coronary heart disease (CHD) patients who include Transcendental Meditation (TM) with cardiac rehabilitation (CR) increased blood flow to the heart by 20.7%. This was the first study to show TM significantly enhanced lifestyle modification in patients, and the first to use positron emission tomography (PET) to measure their effect on cardiac function and rehabilitation. The NIH-funded study was conducted at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in collaboration with the Institute of Prevention Research. See EurekAlert! Press Release.

###

Can more be done besides diet and exercise to better recover from a heart attack, a stroke, or to prevent one? Scientists from Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the Institute for Prevention Research conducted a study, with and without meditation, to find out.

The study, published in the Journal of Nuclear Cardiology, found that patients with coronary heart disease who included Transcendental Meditation (TM) with their cardiac rehabilitation regime increased blood flow to the heart by more than 20%.

Titled “Effects of cardiac rehabilitation with and without meditation on myocardial blood flow using quantitative positron emission tomography”, the pilot study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, in collaboration with the Institute for Prevention Research. The research involved 56 patients who had coronary heart disease, including recent heart attack, coronary artery bypass, or angina.

First study of its kind

The project was a groundbreaking proof-of-concept study, in that it was the first to combine Transcendental Meditation with other lifestyle treatment modalities, and the first to use positron emission tomography (PET) to measure the effect of lifestyle mind-body modification on cardiac function.

“This was the first study to show that the cardiovascular benefits of lifestyle modification such as structured exercise and dietary counseling may be enhanced by adding Transcendental Meditation in patients with heart disease,” said Robert Schneider, MD, FACC, co-director of the study and medical director of the Institute for Prevention Research. “It also found that the Transcendental Meditation technique alone was able to reverse the effects of coronary heart disease assessed by PET imaging.”

Considered a gold standard for measuring myocardial flow reserve non-invasively, cardiac PET has diagnostic and prognostic significance in coronary heart disease.

Randomized, controlled pilot study

The researchers randomly divided the subjects into four groups: cardiac rehabilitation, Transcendental Meditation, Transcendental Meditation plus cardiac rehabilitation, or usual care.

The results showed that of the 37 patients who completed posttesting, myocardial blood flow increased by 20.7% in the group that did both Transcendental Meditation and cardiac rehabilitation. Blood flow in the group that practiced Transcendental Meditation alone increased 12.8%. Cardiac rehabilitation by itself showed an improvement of 5.8%. And patients who received the usual treatment showed a decrease in blood flow of -10.3%. Also see graph of Changes in myocardial flow reserves for the combined TM and non-TM groups.

Stress reduction therapies in cardiac rehabilitation

“Although this is a preliminary study, it suggests that managing one’s mind-body connection with Transcendental Meditation can improve the function of the heart in cardiovascular patients,” said Dr. Schneider, who is also dean of Maharishi University of Management’s College of Integrative Medicine.

He said that psychosocial stress is known to be a risk factor for coronary heart disease but that stress reduction therapies aren’t usually included in cardiac rehabilitation.

“More research needs to be done, but this study and previous research strongly suggest that medical professionals should consider utilizing this simple yet effective mind-body intervention in their heart health treatment and prevention programs,” Dr. Schneider said.

Possible mechanism

While it’s not known precisely how Transcendental Meditation would increase blood flow, the researchers speculate that it’s a result of improved endothelial-mediated coronary and arteriolar vasomotor function. That is, reduced levels of stress hormones and possibly inflammation may result in improved function of the endothelial cells that line the coronary arteries. They cite research, which has found that modifying risk factors for cardiovascular disease improves blood flow in the heart.

Limitations of the study

While the study suggests that the Transcendental Meditation technique can increase blood flow in cardiovascular patients, carefully conducted clinical trials with larger sample sizes are needed to confirm the benefit.

“This was a first pilot study designed to determine the size of the effect and feasibility,” Dr. Schneider said. “Of the 56 original subjects, only 37 were available for the final posttesting of blood flow after the 12-week study period. In addition, compliance with cardiac rehabilitation was average, with attendance at exercise sessions about 60%. Also, the subjects practicing Transcendental Meditation may have received more attention than the rehabilitation group. This initial study paves the way for full scale clinical trials that will more rigorously evaluate these effects.”

Transcendental Meditation also reduces risk factors for heart disease

Earlier studies have shown that the Transcendental Meditation technique reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and insulin resistance. A 2012 study found a 48% reduction in heart attack, stroke, and death.

###

Effects of cardiac rehabilitation with and without meditation on myocardial blood flow using quantitative positron emission tomography: A pilot study https://doi.org/10.1007/s12350-019-01884-9.

PubMed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31529385.

Some News Coverage

Within 4 days of posting the press release there were well over 12,000 page views on EurekAlert! Some significant science news websites that reported on the study were HealthImaging: Meditation increases blood flow in the heart, PET scans show; and PsychCentral: Transcendental Meditation with Cardiac Rehab Can Increase Blood Flow to Heart.

Gary Null discussed the need for prevention on his show’s podcast and shared news of newly published natural approaches for improving heart health. He included MUM’s study at CUIMC from 26:28 to 27:10.

Related: New study shows Transcendental Meditation prevents abnormal enlargement of the heart, reduces chronic heart failure risk

January 24, 2020, Thrive Global published: Manage Your Mind to Manage Your Heart: Why Transcendental Meditation is Vital for Heart Health. Research studies show regular TM practice reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease. By Robert Schneider, M.D., FACC, Dean, College of Integrative Medicine, Maharishi International University.


%d bloggers like this: