The Link Between Meditation And Heart Disease

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Subject: Meditation
Last updated: 31/05/2018
Tags: body, brain, case study, heart disease

What is heart disease?

The heart gets its own supply of blood from a network of blood vessels on the heart's surface called coronary arteries. Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is a build up of fatty material in the coronary arteries causing them to become narrowed, blocking the hearts blood supply. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a major cause of death both in the UK and worldwide.

Causes of heart disease:

Smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes cause inflammation and irritation of the inner lining of the coronary arteries. Over time, cholesterol in the bloodstream can collect in inflamed areas and begin the formation of a plaque. This plaque can grow, narrowing the diameter of the artery. This prevents oxygen-rich blood from being delivered to the heart muscle.

Researching the link between meditation and heart disease:

A five-year study asked 201 patients with coronary heart disease to do transcendental meditation (a technique where you sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed and silently repeat a sound called a mantra, in your head) for 15 minutes a day. 15 minutes of meditation a day reduced the risk of death, heart attack, and stroke by 48 per cent. These changes were associated with lower blood pressure and lower stress levels. The researchers concluded, "This practice may be clinically useful in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease [the prevention of further heart or stroke events for people who already have the condition]."

Additionally, another researcher, Dr Benson, who studied meditation for 30 years, measured blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate and metabolism of five meditating subjects. 'As they fell into deep relaxation, the subjects experienced decreases in metabolism, blood flow and breathing,' he said.

How does it work?

Reducing stress can reduce levels of stress hormones in the body, which have been linked to a higher risk of heart attacks, and keeping blood pressure low can also dampen the risk of heart trouble. 

Meditation calms the signals that our brain is sending to the nervous system - the area of the body responsible for adrenalin and stress levels. Slowing down brain activity in this way gives our bodies time to gather strength and boost energy. When our bodies function properly, this in turn helps fight off stress-related illnesses such as heart disease, digestive problems, allergies and insomnia. 

Avni Patel GCSE Maths Tutor (Romford)

About The Author

I am an A level Student studying Chemistry, Biology and Economics. My goal is to not only see an improvement in students' grades, but also, in their understanding of the subject and their attitude to expanding their knowledge.

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