Study claims transcendental meditation may help prevent heart failure

A new study out of Maharishi International University claims that Transcendental Meditation, the practice of silently chanting a mantra while meditating, may help protect practitioners from heart failure. The benefit, the study claims, revolved around the prevention of an abnormal heart enlargement called left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), which can itself eventually cause heart failure and death in sufferers.

Transcendental meditation is a type of meditation practice developed by the deceased Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the early 1970s. The practice has grown in popularity, reaching the status of what some believe to be a full religion (and, depending on who you're talking to, it is also big business). Maharishi Mahesh Yogi went onto found Maharishi International University in Iowa, which is the source of this study.

Researchers with the university recently published a randomized controlled study that involved 85 African American participants who had been diagnosed with high blood pressure. The study involved assigning the participants to either a control group that received health education or to a transcendental meditation group. Both groups received their usual medical care, as well.

According to the study, and after six months, the group assigned to transcendental meditation retained the heart size they had when the study started. The control group, however, was found to have developed a 10-percent increase in abnormal heart enlargement. The results, the researchers say, point toward transcendental meditation as a potentially effective non-drug method for helping protect the hearts of people who are at risk of developing LVH.

The study also found that people who engage in transcendental meditation may also experience a drastically lowered risk of dying from cardiovascular disease at 38-percent. Of course, one should note that the study was small with only 85 participants. As well, only around half of each group of participants stuck around for the final heart testing after six months, which may have influenced the outcome.