TUESDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- For black Americans suffering from heart disease, meditation might help prevent heart attacks, strokes and early death, a small new study suggests.
These benefits appear to be the results of meditation's ability to lower blood pressure, stress and anger, all of which have been linked to increased cardiovascular risk, researchers say.
"This is a whole new physiological effect on top of conventional treatment," said lead researcher Dr. Robert Schneider, director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention in Fairfield, Iowa. "People can prevent heart disease reoccurrence using their own mind-body connection. People have this internal self-healing ability."
An outside expert, however, said the study is too limited in size and scope to allow conclusions as to whether meditation really reduces risk of death or disease.
The new study focused on Transcendental Meditation. Originally from India, it is not associated with any particular religion or philosophy. It is thought to produce alpha brain waves that occur in deep relaxation. According to the Maharishi Foundation, more than 5 million people worldwide practice this type of meditation.
The research focused on blacks because they are at a higher risk than whites of having heart attacks and strokes and dying from heart disease, Schneider said. He added, however, that meditation would work as well among whites and other populations.
"Other studies have been done among whites and the results are similar," he said.
The report was published in the Nov. 13 issue of the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. The study was sponsored by the Maharishi University of Management and funded by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
For the study, Schneider's team randomly assigned 201 black Americans with heart disease either
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