Heart disease patients who practise Transcendental Meditation have reduced death rates, US researchers have said.
At a meeting of the American Heart Association they said they had randomly assigned 201 African Americans to meditate or to make lifestyle changes. After nine years, the meditation group had a 47% reduction in deaths, heart attacks and strokes.
The African American men and women had an average age of 59 years and a narrowing of the arteries in their hearts. he meditation group were asked to practise for 20 minutes twice a day. The lifestyle change group received education classes in traditional risk factors, including dietary modification and exercise.
Over 9 years, there were 20 events (heart attacks, strokes or death) in the meditation group and 31 in the health education group.
Dr Robert Schneider, lead author and director of the Centre for Natural Medicine and Prevention at the Maharishi University in Iowa said:
"At the end of the 9 years, 80% of the meditation group were still practising at least once a day. But there was very little change in the health education group. Their lifestyle was much the same in terms of diet and exercise - it's a very difficult thing to make those changes."