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Transcendental Meditation: A Simple Method to Avert and Reduce Heart Disease

This is a guest article authored by feature authored by Amy Ruff, RN, BSN, WOCN and Janet Hoffman of Transcendental Meditation for Nurses.

We no longer need to live with the epidemic of stress plaguing America, nor are we helpless to prevent it from tragically impacting heart health. 

According to Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, Go Red for Women’s spokesperson and head of Women’s Cardiology at NYC’s Lenox Hill Hospital:

It’s not been until very recently that we’ve understood the impact of stress. When I prescribe a statin that can lower cholesterol, I’m happy when I get efficacy of treatment at 30 percent. But when I treat stress, I can get as much as a 48-66 percent improvement with the Transcendental Meditation technique. The AHA made a scientific statement that Transcendental Meditation was the only form of stress management and meditation to reduce blood pressure. It’s the most efficacious way for us to treat one of the major risk factors of heart disease—stress.

There have been 395 studies and $28 million granted by NIH for research on TM. Studies show it not only decreases BP, but it helps people who have heart disease function better, live healthier lives. And it’s actually been shown to reduce stroke and heart attacks. It is a very effective treatment tool.

Already 30% of American fatalities are related to CHD and the percentage will increase with our aging population. The majority of the population has at least one risk factor that can be controlled.
                
The AHA’s preferred approach is to reduce risk factors that lead to cardiac events and mortality rather than waiting for an onset that can be clinically diagnosed. Studies suggest that prevention is key, especially at younger and middle ages. With the inclusion of the TM technique in daily life, risk factors including plaque, stress, depression, hypertension, and smoking are significantly reduced. 

The TM technique is practiced for 20 minutes twice daily while sitting comfortably anywhere with eyes closed. Easy to learn, effortless and natural to do, TM involves no concentration, belief, special diet, change in lifestyle or religion. During TM, the mind and body gain deep rest and thereby averts causal and aggravating factors for heart disease.

Only the TM technique has shown a consistent, verifiable, holistic result in decades of rigorous studies. Dr. Abraham Bornstein concurs:

As a Board-Certified Cardiologist and Fellow of The New York Academy of Medicine in the Division of Evidence-Based Medicine, I have reviewed and statistically analyzed the literature available on Transcendental Meditation which shows efficacy as both a preventive as well as treatment methodology for CHD. These findings cannot be generalized to all meditation and stress reduction techniques.

Transcendental Meditation is unlike mindfulness, visualization, contemplation and concentration techniques, both in procedure and results: TM allows you to spontaneously transcend or go beyond thoughts, deep within, to experience a revitalizing state of restful alertness—pure consciousness—our silent reserve of energy, creativity and intelligence. At the same time, the metabolism drops and the body experiences a profound state of rest. Research uniquely shows a sustained reduction in heart disease, a statistically significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, left ventricle mass, atherosclerosis, and a minimum of 48% reduction in cardiac events: heart attacks, strokes and mortality.

Nurses are vulnerable

Our patients are not our only concern—nurses experience a myriad of CVD risk factors. Some examples: a UK study showed that the number of nurses who took time off due to stress was up 27% in one year, nurses took an average of 38 days off annually due to stress, and many were suffering from anxiety or depression. Night shift workers are in a state of perpetual nervous system activation, which affects obesity and cholesterol. The factors that compel nurses to leave their careers—anxiety, depression, stress—are also precursors to CVD.

TM courses for hospital nurses throughout the USA have resulted in statistically  
significant reductions in nurse burnout. Nurses who practice the TM technique report increased happiness, improved sleep, clearer mind, greater efficiency, decreased depression, greater resilience, and increased empathy. In 48 states, nurses can earn 23 ANCC contact hours when they learn the TM technique.

Stress is one of the risk factors for heart disease that is easily modifiable—with the introduction of the TM technique in the daily life of patients and healthcare professionals alike. As nurses, we have a responsibility to provide our patients with the best healthcare resources possible. And this one practical recommendation will reduce CV risk factors in one simple step.

Learn more:
Transcendental meditation and heart disease
Transcendental meditation for nurses