Black adolescents with high normal blood pressure who practice transcendental meditation improve the ability of their blood vessels to relax and may reduce their risk of becoming adults with cardiovascular disease, researchers say.
After eight months of meditation, these adolescents experienced a 21 percent increase in the ability of their blood vessels to dilate compared to a 4 percent decrease experienced by their non-meditating peers, says Dr. Vernon A. Barnes, physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia’s Georgia Prevention Institute and lead investigator on the study.
In the April 2004 issue of the American Journal of Hypertension, Dr. Barnes and his colleagues reported that 15 minutes of twice-daily transcendental meditation steadily lowered the blood pressure of 156 black, inner-city adolescents and their pressures tended to stay lower.
This new study, being presented during the 63rd Annual Scientific Conference of the American Psychosomatic Society held March 2-5 in Vancouver, focused on 111 of those adolescents, 57 who meditated and 54 controls.
The obesity epidemic in the United States,is the primary contributor to the increasing blood pressure rates in children. But obesity appears to be part of an unhealthy cycle where the stress of everyday life – such as poverty and not feeling safe at home – contribute to bad habits such as overeating and/or eating high-fat comfort foods and not
exercising. It appears that meditating – allowing the mind to settle to minimal activity for 15 minutes twice daily – may help the meditator and his blood vessels relax in the hectic world around him.
Dr. Frank Treiber, director of MCG’s Georgia Prevention Institute, and Dr. Surender Malhotra, cardiology fellow at MCG, are co-authors on the study which is highlighted as one of 10 abstract submissions to the conference viewed as having the highest potential to change clinical practice from the perspective of screening, diagnosis or treatment.