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AMA Issues Statement on Meditation and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction

October 3, 2017

Cardiovascular disease remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Novel and inexpensive interventions that can contribute to the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease are of interest to both patients and healthcare providers. Meditation instruction and practice is widely accessible and inexpensive, and may be an attractive cost-effective adjunct to more traditional medical therapies. A newly published Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) reports on findings from a systematic review on Meditation and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction authored by numerous investigators, including Karen Saban, PhD, RN, part of HSR&D’s Center for Innovation for Complex Chronic Healthcare (CINCCH), on behalf of the AHA’s Council on Clinical Cardiology, the Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing, and the Council on Hypertension.

Studies on meditation and cardiovascular risk reduction that were included in this review were found via PubMed, including research that focused on practices such as tai chi, qigong, and yoga. Findings from this systematic review show:

  • Studies of meditation suggest a possible benefit on cardiovascular risk, although the overall quality and, in some cases, quantity of study data are modest.
  • The mainstay for primary and secondary prevention of CVD is ACC/AHA guideline-directed interventions.
  • Meditation may be considered as an adjunct to guideline-directed cardiovascular risk reduction by those interested in this lifestyle modification, with the understanding that the benefits of such intervention remain to be better established.
  • Further research on meditation and cardiovascular risk is warranted, particularly studies that utilize a randomized study design and include long-term follow-up.

Dr. Saban also is principal investigator on the HSR&D-funded study titled “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Women at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease.”

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