Past studies among adults have shown that regular meditation can help lower blood pressure and boost heart health. Now findings recently published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggest the same may be true for adolescents at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
The small study examined the effects of transcendental meditation on left ventricular mass, an indicator of future cardiovascular disease, among African-American teenagers with high blood pressure. A Georgia Health Sciences University release describes the experiment:
Half of the group was trained in transcendental meditation and asked to meditate for 15 minutes with a class and 15 minutes at home for a four-month period. The other half was exposed to health education on how to lower blood pressure and risk for cardiovascular disease, but no meditation. Left ventricular mass was measured with two-dimensional echocardiograms before and after the study and the group that meditated showed a significant decrease.
In discussing the findings, researchers say the meditation practice invokes a deep resting state turning off the sympathetic nervous system and causing the body to produce fewer stress hormones. As a result, the heart works less because the vasculature relaxes and blood pressure drops.