Yoga and meditation may keep your heart healthy
YOGA and meditation could help to lower the risk of heart disease. The practices may help lower blood pressure and stress, both of which can put a strain on the heart, researchers have said.
Heart disease is the number one killer in Ireland, causing 10,000 deaths a year – a third of overall deaths.
Previous studies have shown that meditation boosts brain health. So the American Heart Association reviewed research to examine its impact on heart disease.
Its findings, which were published in the association’s journal, suggest that the practice could be associated with decreased stress, anxiety and depression, as well as improved sleep and overall wellbeing. It also may help lower blood pressure.
However, the study’s leader, Professor Glenn Levine, of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said that despite the health benefits, yoga was still ‘not a substitute for traditional medical care’.
The key to keeping the heart in shape, he said, was still a healthy lifestyle.
Meditation dates back as far as 5000BC and is associated with philosophies and religions, notably Buddhism.
However, it is increasingly practised as a secular and therapeutic activity.
According to reports, 8% of Americans now do some sort of meditation, while another study found that 17% of patients with cardiovascular disease expressed an interest in participating in a clinical trial of meditation.
Researchers also reviewed previous studies to examine the impact that different types of meditation had on heart disease. These included insight meditation, loving kindness (Metta), transcendental meditation and relaxation response.
They found the practice could be associated with decreased levels of stress, anxiety and depression and improved quality of sleep and overall wellbeing.
It also may help lower blood pressure, although there is not enough evidence to determine whether or how much it may do so in an individual patient.
However, researchers say until more research is done, the main prevention and treatment of heart disease remains lifestyle advice and medical treatment.
These include taking statins to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure pills, quitting smoking and regular physical activity.