Meditation as Medicine: Reviewing TM for CVD Prevention
the MPR take:
Evidence suggests that psychosocial stress may be an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in patients with and without CVD, but research on transcendental meditation (TM) to reduce this modifiable risk factor is limited. A review in the Cochrane Library evaluated four randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing TM and blood pressure; in one study, a reduction in systolic blood pressure (SBP) was seen in the TM group (adjusted mean 125.4mmHg) vs. no treatment (adjusted mean 135.3mmHg, P value < 0.01) and in another a modest but statistically significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure (DBP) . In the remaining two trials, one small study found a significant SBP reduction in the TM arm (-8.94mmHg, 95% CI -14.89– -2.99) but no reduction in a larger trial. All of the studies were short term and none measured cardiovascular mortality, all-cause mortality, or non-fatal events. While one study did look at survival rate using records three years after the intervention period, it was not clear if TM was continued following the end of the trial. High-quality larger trials with long-term follow-up and a broad range out outcomes are needed before TM can be recommended for primary prevention of CVD.
A major determinant in cardiovascular disease (CVD) is stress. As transcendental meditation (TM) is thought to help in lowering negative stress indicators, it may be a beneficial strategy for the primary prevention of CVD.