Review of Controlled Research on the Transcendental Meditation Program and Cardiovascular Disease: Risk Factors, Morbidity, and Mortality

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Abstract

Because of growing evidence for stress as a major factor contributing to cardiovascular disease (CVD), techniques of meditation are being increasingly used. The Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique is distinct from other techniques of meditation not only in its origin and procedure, but also in the amount and breadth of research testing it. Evidence for its ability to reduce traditional and novel risk factors for CVD includes: 1) decreases in blood pressure, 2) reduced use of tobacco and alcohol, 3) lowering of high cholesterol and lipid oxidation, and 4) decreased psychosocial stress. Changes expected to result from reducing these risk factors, namely, reversal of atherosclerosis, reduction of myocardial ischemia and left ventricular hypertrophy, reduced health insurance claims for CVD, and reduced mortality, also have been found with TM practice. Research on mechanisms suggests that some of the CVD-related benefits as a result of this technique could arise from normalization of neuroendocrine systems whose function has been distorted by chronic stress. Further randomized clinical trials are in progress with a focus on underserved minority populations.

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