The American Heart Association has released a statement recommending meditation as a way to potentially reduce the risk of heart disease.
The American Heart Association has joined the chorus of voices recognizing the benefits of a regular meditation practice. In a statement titled, “Meditation and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association,” the AHA calls meditation a “potential attractive cost‐effective adjunct to more traditional medical therapies.”
The AHA conducted a systematic review of the studies on potential benefits of meditation on cardiovascular risk and found that, “Overall, studies of meditation suggest a possible benefit on cardiovascular risk.” The AHA did caution that the overall quality and quantity of study data is “modest”. The AHA looked at studies examining the 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.
The non profit called for further research on meditation and cardiovascular risk, recommending researcher to “utilize randomized study design, be adequately powered to detect clinically meaningful benefit, include long‐term follow‐up, and be performed by those without inherent bias in outcome.”
Dr. Glenn Levine, chair of the AHA task force on clinical practice guidelines, told Reuters that meditation was not a cure all and should not be undertaken as a substitute for well-established and recommended lifestyle and medicinal interventions.”
One of the reasons the American Heart Association chose to investigate the benefits of meditation is because of previous studies which have indicated that meditation can have positive effects on the brain. The research examined by the AHA focused on sitting meditation such as Samatha, Vipassana, Mindfulness Meditation, Zazen (Zen Meditation), Raja Yoga, Loving-Kindness (Metta), Transcendental Meditation, and Relaxation Response. These meditations have been associated with lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as improved sleep.