Transcendental meditation, derived from the ancient Vedic tradition in India, is taught through a standard protocol involving lectures, personal instruction and group meetings, according to background information in the article. It has previously been shown to lower blood pressure but its effect on other risk factors associated with coronary heart disease, including those linked to the metabolic syndrome, has not been thoroughly examined. The metabolic syndrome refers to a cluster of symptoms that increase cardiac risk, including high blood pressure (hypertension), abdominal obesity, high cholesterol and insulin resistance, which occurs when the body is unable to use the insulin produced by the pancreas to process sugar into energy.
Maura Paul-Labrador, M.P.H., Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and colleagues conducted a 16-week trial of transcendental meditation in patients with coronary heart disease. Fifty-two participants (average age 67.7 years) were instructed in transcendental meditation and 51 control patients (average age 67.1 years) received health education. At the beginning and end of the trial, the patients fasted overnight and then gave a blood sample, participated in a medical history review and underwent tests of blood vessel function and heart rate variability. Heart rate variability testing assesses the functioning of the autonomic nervous system, which controls the heart and other involuntary muscles.
Overall, of the 103 participants who were enrolled, 84 (82 percent) completed the study. At the end of the trial, patients in the transcendental meditation group had significantly lower blood pressure; improved fasting blood glucose and insulin l
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