Meditation has often been thought of as a practice for monks, or even hippies, but chances are, it can benefit you, too. Many Americans suffer from high blood pressure and heart disease. With rising healthcare costs and limited options for effective and inexpensive treatments, meditation to improve blood pressure and the heart is proving an alternative solution for these very common health risks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, which is a large risk factor for heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, with the most common being coronary heart disease. In 2010, high blood pressure cost the U.S. $93.5 billion in health care services, medications and missed days of work, while coronary heart disease cost $108.9 billion.
Spending 15 to 30 minutes meditating daily can drastically affect the risks of falling into those statistics. The American Journal of Hypertension published a study that found young adults who were at risk for increased hypertension significantly lowered their blood pressure and psychological distress by meditating for 20 minutes once or twice daily for three months. Those in the meditation group who were not at an increased hypertension risk showed reductions in psychological distress, depression and anxiety.
And it’s never too late to begin. The New York Times reported on a 79-year-old woman with coronary heart disease who began meditating when she was 70. She became a subject in a five-year study that found high-risk patients who meditated cut their risk of heart attacks, strokes and death by nearly half (43%).
Other studies have found similar results. In 2006, volunteers with coronary heart disease participated in a 16-week trial where meditation was found to have significantly lowered blood pressure, improve fasting blood glucose and insulin levels, and contribute to a more stable autonomic nervous system.
As cited in the New York Times article, some Milwaukee residents who were overweight or obese completed mediation training and showed reduced blood pressure. Beginning a meditation practice to lower blood pressure and improve the heart does not discriminate across the socio political spectrum. Meditation has benefits for people of all demographics, education levels, age, beliefs and lifestyles. Those who are at risk or who currently suffer from high blood pressure and heart disease can access meditation with little or no cost, and reap the added benefits the practice brings.
Research shows that the cardiovascular benefits of meditation are undeniable. In combination with other conventional medicines, meditation can be used as part of a healthy lifestyle plan to improve blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease. Still believe it is only for the monks and hippies?
Note: Specifically, with regards to medical issues, always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Web site.
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