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American Heart Association Backs Transcendental Meditation

Media Release Date:  Wednesday 19 June 2013

American Heart Association Backs Transcendental Meditation

A Christchurch doctor is endorsing a recent report issued by the American Heart Association which encourages the use of Transcendental Meditation in clinical practice for the treatment of hypertension in the prevention of heart attack and strokes.

The purpose of the report, entitled "Beyond Medications and Diet — Alternative Approaches to Lowering Blood Pressure:  A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association," is to inform physicians which alternative approaches to lowering blood pressure have been shown by research to be effective.

Christchurch GP, Dr David Lovell-Smith, has previously documented the clinical role of Transcendental Meditation (known as TM for short) in his book “Perfect Blood Pressure Naturally” and for many years has recommended the technique to his patients.

The authors of the report assessed three categories of alternative approaches: behavioural therapies such as meditation, non-invasive procedures or devices, and exercise-based regimens.  The report did not review diets or dietary supplements.

Meta-analyses referenced in the report found that TM lowers blood pressure on average 5 mmHg systolic and 3 mmHg diastolic and clinical trials have shown that lower blood pressure through the practice is associated with significantly lower rates of death, heart attack and stroke.

According to Dr Lovell-Smith, Transcendental Meditation has the big advantage of having numerous side-benefits instead of adverse side effects.  He says this is important in regard to therapy for large numbers of people - the vast majority of whom are not ever going to have a heart attack or stroke in the first place.

Dr Lovell-Smith maintains that instead of giving indigestion and lethargy to large numbers of people for no purpose, as a medical practitioner might with a drug, prescribing TM to patients results in delivering wellbeing and improvements in stress related disorders.

Two large scale cohort studies conducted in the USA have shown that people practising Transcendental Meditation regularly over a 5 year period used doctor and hospital services approximately 50% less than the average person in findings based on health insurance statistics.  The figure rose to over 70% for those middle aged or over.

After considering meta-analyses and the latest clinical trials on different types of meditation, the AHA report found that while the Transcendental Meditation technique is endorsed in the lowering of high blood pressure, there is insufficient evidence to recommend other meditation or relaxation techniques for that purpose.

Transcendental Meditation has been taught throughout New Zealand since 1970 by the Maharishi Foundation, a non-profit educational organisation.  About 40,000 Kiwis have learned the technique in that time.


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