Improve Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Survival in African Americans with Meditation

Improve Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Survival in African Americans with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Twice-a-day Transcendental Meditation helped African Americans with heart disease reduce risk of death, heart attack and stroke. Meditation helped patients lower their blood pressure, stress and anger.” – Science Daily

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Hypertension is more prevalent in African American populations with 40% having high blood pressure. African Americans were 20 percent more likely to die from heart disease.

 

High blood pressure, because it doesn’t have any primary symptoms, is usually only diagnosed by direct measurement of blood pressure usually by a health care professional. When hypertension is chronically present over three quarters of patients are treated with antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely. Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension.

 

Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. Indeed, meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. These practices have also been shown to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress and to be helpful for producing the kinds of lifestyle changes needed to prevent heart disease such as smoking cessation, and weight reduction. They have also been shown to be effective in maintaining cardiovascular health and the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Hence it is reasonable to study the effects of meditation training on cardiovascular health in African Americans.

 

In today’s Research News article “Stress reduction in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: randomized, controlled trial of transcendental meditation and health education in Blacks. Circulation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7269100/) Schneider and colleagues recruited African American patients with a history of coronary artery disease. They were randomly assigned to receive either health education or Transcendental Meditation. Both interventions consisted of training for 1.5 hours weekly for the first month, biweekly for the next two months, and monthly thereafter along with home practice. They were measured before and after training and every 6 months thereafter for 9 years for mortality, blood pressure, diet, alcohol and tobacco use, physical activity, depression, anger, and hostility.

 

They found that in comparison to the health education group, the participants who practiced meditation had significantly lower all-cause mortality rates (44% vs, 54% respectively) and lower rates of myocardial infarction and stroke over the 9-year follow-up period. They also found that the greater the amount of home practice the lower the mortality rate. In addition, at the 5-year follow-up the meditation group had significantly lower systolic blood pressure, resting heart rate, and anger.

 

These are excellent results that suggest that meditation practice significantly improves survival in African American patients with a history of coronary artery disease. The fact that they were followed for 9 years is remarkable and strengthens the conclusions. Similar to the current results, it has previously been found that mindfulness practices produce significant improvements in cardiovascular function and reduces anger responses. It is not known but it is reasonable to hypothesize that the reduction in blood pressure and heart rate along with anger contributed to the heightened survival.

 

So, improve cardiovascular risk factors and survival in African Americans with meditation.

 

“Meditation can serve many purposes. It can help regulate breathing, reduce stress, and aid some in getting in touch with their inner spiritual selves. When it comes to heart health, meditation can take on another role — a preventative one.” – Tri Cities Medical Center

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Schneider, R. H., Grim, C. E., Rainforth, M. V., Kotchen, T., Nidich, S. I., Gaylord-King, C., Salerno, J. W., Kotchen, J. M., & Alexander, C. N. (2012). Stress reduction in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: randomized, controlled trial of transcendental meditation and health education in Blacks. Circulation. Cardiovascular quality and outcomes, 5(6), 750–758. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.112.967406

 

Abstract

Background:

African Americans have disproportionate rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Psychosocial stress may contribute to this disparity. Previous trials on stress reduction with the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program have reported improvements in CVD risk factors, surrogate endpoints and mortality in African Americans and other populations.

Methods and Results:

This was a randomized controlled trial of 201 African American men and women with coronary heart disease (CHD) who were randomized to the TM program or health education. The primary end point was the composite of all-cause mortality, myocardial infarction, or stroke. Secondary endpoints included the composite of cardiovascular mortality, revascularizations, and cardiovascular hospitalizations; blood pressure (BP); psychosocial stress factors; and lifestyle behaviors. Over an average follow-up of 5.4 years, there was a 48% risk reduction in the primary end point in the TM group (hazard ratio [HR], 0.52; 95% confidence interval[CI], 0.29-0.92)(P =.025). The TM group also showed a 24% risk reduction in the secondary end point (HR, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.51-0.1.13) (P =.17). There were reductions of 4.9 mm Hg in systolic BP (95% CI −8.3 to –1.5 mm Hg) (P =.01) and anger expression (P < .05 for all scales). Adherence was associated with survival.

Conclusion:

A selected mind-body intervention, the Transcendental Meditation program, significantly reduced risk for mortality, myocardial infarction and stroke in CHD patients. These changes were associated with lower BP and psychosocial stress factors. Therefore, this practice may be clinically useful in the secondary prevention of CVD.

What is known

Psychosocial stress is associated with the onset and progression of cardiovascular disease in African Americans and the general population

Stress reduction with the Transcendental Meditation program has previously been shown to reduce cardiovascular risk factors e.g., hypertension, psychological stress, smoking, insulin resistance and myocardial ischemia.

What this article adds

This randomized controlled trial found that adding stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation to usual care in patients with coronary heart disease resulted in a 48% reduction in the risk for cardiovascular clinical events, i.e., mortality, myocardial infarction and stroke over more than five years of follow up.

Potential mechanisms for the observed outcomes differences included lower blood pressure and anger scores. There was evidence for dose-response effect between regularity of meditation practice and longer survival.

A transcendental meditation program may be useful in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7269100/

 

Reduce Blood Pressure in Patients with Noncommunicable Diseases with Mindfulness

Reduce Blood Pressure in Patients with Noncommunicable Diseases with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness practice can be an effective way to reduce blood pressure (and along with it, the risk of stroke or heart attack).” – NICABM

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Treatment frequently includes antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely.

 

Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. Indeed, meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. Hypertension is frequently cooccurring with in patients with non-communicable diseases. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness interventions reduce blood pressure in patients with non-communicable diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc), Intarakamhang and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of mindfulness training in reducing blood pressure in patients with non-communicable diseases.

 

They defined non-communicable diseases (NCDs) to include cancers, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and diabetes and identified 14 published controlled studies including a total of 1117 patients. They report that the studies found that mindfulness training significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the patients with NCDs.

 

The results are compatible with previous findings that mindfulness training reduces blood pressure in a wide variety of healthy and ill individuals. The present study demonstrates that mindfulness training is effective in reducing blood pressure in patients with non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This is reasonable given that mindfulness training has been shown to improve the symptoms of patients with the included NCDs, cancers, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and diabetes.

 

There are a number of possible mechanisms for this blood pressure reduction. Mindfulness training is known to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress and this may in turn lower blood pressure. Also mindfulness training has been shown to affect the autonomic nervous system increasing parasympathetic activity that tends to reduce blood pressure.

 

So, reduce blood pressure in patients with noncommunicable diseases with mindfulness.

 

“The hope is that if we can start mindfulness training early in life, we can promote a trajectory of healthy aging across the rest of people’s lives. That will reduce their chances of getting high blood pressure in the first place.” – Eric Loucks

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Intarakamhang, U., Macaskill, A., & Prasittichok, P. (2020). Mindfulness interventions reduce blood pressure in patients with non-communicable diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Heliyon, 6(4), e03834. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e03834

 

Abstract

Purpose

Mindfulness based interventions (MBIs) are an emerging area of empirical study, not only in positive psychology, but also in clinical health care. This research aims to synthesize the evidence about whether MBIs reduce blood pressure (BP) in patients with non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Methods

Relevant studies were identified via PubMed, the Cochrane Library, Embase and the CINAHL database between 2009 and 2019. The papers selected focused on mindfulness and the effect of these on the BP of patients with NCDs. The change in SBP and DBP were meta-analyzed, stratified by type of intervention (Breathing awareness meditation (BAM), Mindfulness Meditation (MM), and Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

Results

Fourteen articles met eligibility criteria and were included in the final review. Among the studies using the type and duration of intervention, systolic BP was reduced after the mindfulness-based stress reduction for 8 weeks (-6.90 mmHg [95% CI: -10.82, -2.97], p < .050), followed by the breathing awareness meditation for 12 weeks (-4.10 mmHg [95% CI: -7.54, -0.66], p < .050) and the mindfulness-based intervention for 8 weeks (-2.69 mmHg [95% CI: -3.90, -1.49], p < .050) whereas diastolic BP was reduced after the mindfulness-based stress reduction for 8 weeks (-2.45 mmHg [95% CI: -3.74, -1.17], p < .050) and the mindfulness-based intervention for 8 weeks (-2.24 mmHg [95% CI: -3.22, -1.26], p < .050).

Conclusion

MBIs can provide effective alternative therapies to assist in blood pressure reduction for patients with NCDs.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc

 

Improve Quality of Life after a Heart Attack with Mindfulness

Improve Quality of Life after a Heart Attack with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Not only can meditation improve how your heart functions, but a regular practice can enhance your outlook on life and motivate you to maintain many heart-healthy behaviors.” – John Denninger

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer. A myriad of treatments has been developed including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. In addition, lifestyle changes have proved to be effective including quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, 60% of cardiovascular disease patients decline participation, making these patients at high risk for another attack.

 

Contemplative practices have been shown to be safe and effective alternative treatments for cardiovascular disease. Practices such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have been shown to be helpful for heart health and to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. They have also been shown to be effective in maintaining cardiovascular health and the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy technique that is employs many of the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). ACT focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes. So, it makes sense to study the efficacy of ACT for patients recovering from a heart attack.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy on Quality of Life in a Patient with Myocardial Infarction: A Randomized Control Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7193234/), Ghahnaviyeh and colleagues recruited patients over 30 years of age who had had a myocardial infarction. They were randomly assigned to either receive 8 weekly 90 minute sessions of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or to a treatment as usual control condition. They were measured before and after therapy and 6 months later for health status and quality of life.

 

They found that after therapy and 6 months later the group that received Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) had significantly greater overall quality of life including significantly greater physical and psychological quality of life. These results suggest that ACT improves the quality of life of patients having had myocardial infarction. It remains for future research to determine the mechanisms of these effects of ACT.

 

So, improve quality of life after a heart attack with mindfulness.

 

this practice may be clinically useful in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.” – Heart Matters

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Ahmadi Ghahnaviyeh, L., Bagherian, B., Feizi, A., Afshari, A., & Mostafavi Darani, F. (2020). The Effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy on Quality of Life in a Patient with Myocardial Infarction: A Randomized Control Trial. Iranian journal of psychiatry, 15(1), 1–9.

 

Abstract

Objective: Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) interventions increase psychological flexibility and improve mental health and quality of life in patients with myocardial infarction.

Study design: A controlled clinical trial study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of an ACT intervention in improving the quality of life in patients with MI in Isfahan, Iran.

Method : The present controlled clinical trial with a pre and post-test design was conducted on a statistical population consisting of patients with MI admitted to hospitals in Isfahan (n = 60) who were selected through sequential sampling based on the study inclusion criteria and were randomly divided into an intervention and a control group (n1 = n2 = 30). The case group received 8 weekly 90-minute sessions of ACT and the control group received no interventions. The pretest-posttest design was administered in both groups using a demographic questionnaire and the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire (MLHFQ) designed to assess the health status of patients with heart failure in terms of quality of life. The data obtained were analyzed in SPSS-20 using descriptive statistics and the ANCOVA.

Results: In this study, 2 general areas of quality of life, including physical and mental health, were examined in the patients. There was a significant increase in the quality of life and subscales of mental and physical health in the experimental group (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Considering the effectiveness of ACT in improving quality of life in these patients, this method of intervention can be used as a complementary therapy in health care centers to reduce the side-effects experienced by these patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7193234/

 

Reduce Physiological Indicators of Stress with Mindfulness

Reduce Physiological Indicators of Stress with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Learning how to accept your present-moment experience is really important for reducing stress,” – Emily Lindsay

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in improving physical and psychological health. One reason for these benefits is that mindfulness training improves the individual’s physical and psychological reactions to stress. Stress is an integral part of life, that is actually essential to the health of the body. In moderation, it is healthful, strengthening, and provides interest and fun to life. If stress, is high or is prolonged, however, it can be problematic. It can significantly damage our physical and mental health and even reduce our longevity, leading to premature deaths.

 

It is important that we develop methods to either reduce or control high or prolonged stress or reduce our responses to it. Mindfulness practices have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. and this appears to be important for health. So, it is important to study the mechanisms by which mindfulness reduces stress.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Student Training Leads to a Reduction in Physiological Evaluated Stress.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00645/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1332835_69_Psycho_20200519_arts_A), Voss and colleagues recruited university students and randomly assigned them to receive either no-treatment or a once a week for 90 minutes, 8-week mindfulness training program based upon Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The program contained meditation, body scan, yoga, and discussion and daily 20-min home practice. They were measured before and after training with physiological indicators of autonomic nervous system activity with electrocardiogram (ECG), finger-pulse plethysmography, and respiration.

 

They found that in comparison to the baseline and the no-treatment control participants the participants who received mindfulness training had significantly lower blood pressure pulse wave variability in both their systolic and diastolic blood pressures. These results suggest that mindfulness training resulted in improved regulation of the autonomic nervous system suggesting lower physiological arousal and greater peripheral physiological relaxation. This normally suggests a dominance of the parasympathetic (relaxation) component of the system as opposed to the sympathetic (arousal) component. The study suggests that the mindfulness training produced lower levels of physiological indicators of stress.

 

Prior research has established the mindfulness training produces lower psychological responses to stress. It has also shown that mindfulness training produces higher levels of heart rate variability, another measure of parasympathetic predominance and improved autonomic regulation. So, the present study, using different physiological measures, also showed that mindfulness training improves autonomic regulation suggestive of greater ability to respond to stress with lower physiological reactivity.

 

The importance of the observed improvements in autonomic regulation should not be underestimated. The greater ability to respond adaptively to stress is thought to underlie many of the improvements in mental and physical health produced by mindfulness training. In other words, the physiological indicators of reduced stress responsivity observed here, are indicators of the improvements in the individual’s ability to withstand stress and thereby maintain their health and well-being

 

So, reduce physiological indicators of stress with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness can lead to less intense stress responses. This has many health benefits, such as lowering your blood pressure and strengthening your immune system.” – Healthy Aging

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Voss A, Bogdanski M, Langohr B, Albrecht R and Sandbothe M (2020) Mindfulness-Based Student Training Leads to a Reduction in Physiological Evaluated Stress. Front. Psychol. 11:645. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00645

 

Background and Objective: In today’s fast-paced modern lifestyle, chronic stress has become a serious issue with potential consequences for our physical and mental health. The concept of mindfulness and its derived Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is considered to be an effective stress management technique for patients as well as for healthy persons. The effects of MBSR interventions on their participants have been subject of previous research, especially with regard to psychological or social science approaches using self-reports and questionnaires. In contrast, medical investigations in this field have been less frequent and often somehow limited, for example, addressing only absolute (discrete) mean values for heart rate or blood pressure.

Methods: In this study, we have evaluated a Mindfulness Based Student Training program (MBST) by applying methods of biosignal analysis to examine its impact on the training participants’ autonomic regulation. This intervention program included classical MBSR elements but was adapted to suit the normal daily needs of university students. We obtained the electrocardiogram, finger-pulse plethysmography, and respiration activity from students participating in either the intervention group (IGR, 38 subjects) or a passive control group (CON, 35 subjects) prior to and after 8 weeks of MBST intervention.

Results: When comparing various indices from heart rate variability, pulse wave variability, and respiration in linear and nonlinear domains, significant changes in the autonomic regulation were observed for the IGR group after 8 weeks of MBST.

Conclusion: The results indicate a reduced stress level exclusively for the intervention participants, and therefore, we assume a health benefit from the MBST program.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00645/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1332835_69_Psycho_20200519_arts_A

 

Andreas.Voss@eah-jena.de

 

Lower Heart Rate and Increase its Variability with Meditation

Lower Heart Rate and Increase its Variability with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

If a person’s system is in more of a fight-or-flight mode, the variation between subsequent heartbeats is low. If one is in a more relaxed state, the variation between beats is high. In other words, the healthier the ANS the faster you are able to switch gears, showing more resilience and flexibility. Over the past few decades, research has shown a relationship between low HRV and worsening depression or anxiety. A low HRV is even associated with an increased risk of death and cardiovascular disease.” – Marcelo Campos

 

In our lives we are confronted with a variety of situations and environments. In order to successfully navigate these differing situations, we must be able to adapt and self-regulate. The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is designed to adapt physiologically to the varying demands on us. It is composed of 2 divisions; the sympathetic division underlies activation, including increases in heart rate and blood pressure, while the parasympathetic division underlies relaxation, including decreases in heart rate and blood pressure. A measure of the balance between these systems is provided by the variability of the heart rate.

 

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) refers to the change in the time intervals between consecutive heart beats. Higher levels of HRV are indicative of flexibility in the Autonomic Nervous System and are associated with adaptability to varying environments. Mindfulness has been associated with psychological flexibility and a greater ability to adapt appropriately to differing situations. It makes sense then to investigate the relationship of mindfulness to and Heart Rate Variability (HRV).

 

In today’s Research News article “Meditation Practice Improves Short-Term Changes in Heart Rate Variability.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7142551/), Chang and colleagues performed 2 experiments. In the first, they recruited healthy meditation naïve adults and presented them with a 90-minute class on meditation including practice in a face to face setting once a week for 4 weeks. In the second experiment experienced meditators were recruited and received once a week for 4 weeks the 90-minute class on meditation including practice presented on video. The participants wore wrist heart rate monitors and were measured over the course of the study for heart rate, heart rate variability, and blood pressure.

 

They found that both the meditation naïve participants with face to face instruction and the experienced meditators with video instruction had significant decreases over the course of the study in heart rate and significant increases in heart rate variability. Increased heart rate variability signals greater relaxation in the autonomic nervous system with a predominance of parasympathetic (relaxation) activity over sympathetic (activation) activity. The results make sense as parasympathetic activity tends to decrease heart rate. This all signals greater physiological relaxation

 

There was no control condition in the present study. So, the experiment is open to confounding by demand characteristics, experimenter bias, expectancy (placebo) effect etc. But prior randomized controlled studies have also observed that mindfulness training reduces heart rate and increases heart rate variability. So, the present results are likely due to the meditation practice. This increase in parasympathetic activity produced by meditation training may explain why mindfulness training is effective in treating cardiovascular diseases, in overall reducing the deleterious effects of stress and producing increased relaxation.

 

So, lower heart rate and increase its variability with meditation.

 

meditation may improve your heart’s recovery from stress as demonstrated by improved Heart Rate Variability (HRV).” – Sam Sly

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chang, K. M., Wu Chueh, M. T., & Lai, Y. J. (2020). Meditation Practice Improves Short-Term Changes in Heart Rate Variability. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(6), 2128. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17062128

 

Abstract

Background: It is well known that meditation improves the physical and psychological condition of its practitioners. This study investigated the heart rate variability response of meditation practitioners in two Chan master teaching environments, namely face-to-face and video classes. Methods: Experimental sessions were conducted, one featuring face-to-face classes and the other featuring video classes. The difference in participants’ physiological parameters (blood pressure and heart rate variability) between the two experimental sessions was determined. In the first session, physiological parameters were recorded twice, before and after one teaching course, and the second session took place one month after the first. The first and second sessions had 45 and 27 participants, respectively. Those involved in the first experiment had no experience with meditation, whereas participants in the second experiment had practiced meditation for an average of 9 years (range = 1 to 27 years). Both experiments were conducted once a week, with each session lasting 1.5 h. Results: For both experiments, both heart rate and heart rate variability by age significantly decreased after one teaching course. Conclusions: Chan meditation practitioners benefit from receiving both face-to-face and video class teaching from a Chan master.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7142551/

 

Reduce Hypertension with a Mindfulness Smartphone App

Reduce Hypertension with a Mindfulness Smartphone App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Investigators found mindfulness was associated with a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure at 1 year and had other gains including better adherence to a recommended diet, lower salt intake, reduced alcohol consumption, and increased physical activity.” – Damian McNamara

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Treatment frequently includes antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely.

 

Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained teacher. This results in costs that many patients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, Apps for smartphones have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations.

 

In today’s Research News article “Impact of 12-Month Smartphone Breathing Meditation Program upon Systolic Blood Pressure among Non-Medicated Stage 1 Hypertensive Adults.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7143262/), Chandler and colleagues recruited adults with non-medicated stage 1 systolic hypertension; systolic blood pressure of 121–139 mmHg. They were randomly assigned to receive via smartphone app 3 months of either mindfulness training or health education. The mindfulness training app, Tension Tamer, employed twice daily practice of focused meditation for 10-15 minutes. The health education app, Runkeeper, delivered lifestyle health education messages focusing on exercise. They were measured before during and after training and 3 and 9 months later for systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

 

They found that the mindfulness trained group had greater reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure at the end of training and 9 months later. In addition, a greater proportion of mindfulness trained participants achieved reductions sufficient to remove them from being classified as having stage 1 systolic hypertension.

 

There were no significant differences found in perceived stress. Even though mindfulness training has been shown in prior studies to reduce perceived stress, it does not appear to be responsible for decrease blood pressure in the present study. Measures of heart rate during the meditation practice revealed significant decreases in heart rate over the session. This suggests that the mindfulness training was successful in reducing blood pressure by increasing relaxation perhaps by increasing the activity of the parasympathetic component of the autonomic nervous system.

 

So, reduce hypertension with a mindfulness smartphone app.

 

“mindfulness meditation in combination with conventional medication treatment reduces blood pressure and stress levels, while improving mindfulness and mood more than medication coupled with health education.” – goamra.org

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chandler, J., Sox, L., Diaz, V., Kellam, K., Neely, A., Nemeth, L., & Treiber, F. (2020). Impact of 12-Month Smartphone Breathing Meditation Program upon Systolic Blood Pressure among Non-Medicated Stage 1 Hypertensive Adults. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(6), 1955. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17061955

 

Abstract

(1) Background: Hypertension (HTN) affects ~50% of adults and is a major risk factor for stroke and cardiovascular disease. In 2017, the SPRINT trial outcomes led to lowering of HTN cutoffs by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA). The Joint National Committee (JNC8) and National High BP Education Program recommend that lifestyle modifications be used as first-line HTN treatment. Chronic stress is a risk factor for HTN and cardiovascular disease. A recently completed 12 month randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a breathing meditation smart phone app (Tension Tamer, TT) involving JNC8 designated pre-HTN adults provided an opportunity to examine its impact upon individuals now classified as having stage 1 HTN. The TT app captures continuous real-time heart rate (HR) from a user’s fingertip placed over a video camera lens during sessions. Users receive immediate feedback graphs after each session, showing their HR changes. They also receive motivational and social reinforcement SMS text messages the following day based upon levels of adherence. We conducted ancillary analyses of a 2-arm, 12-month, small-scale efficacy RCT among a subgroup of our total sample of participants, who are now classified as having stage 1 non-medicated systolic HTN. Primary outcome was change in resting systolic blood pressure (SBP). Secondary outcomes were change in resting diastolic blood pressure, adherence to the TT protocol, and perceived stress levels. (2) Methods: 30 adults (mean age: 45.0 years; 15 males; 16 White; 14 Black) with ACC/AHA 2017 defined systolic HTN (130–139 mmHg) on 3 consecutive sessions (mean SBP: 132.6 mmHg) were randomly assigned to TT or lifestyle education program delivered via smartphone (SPCTL). Each group received a twice-daily dosage schedule of TT or walking (month 1: 15 min; months 2 and 3: 10 min; months 4–12: 5 min). (3) Results: Mixed modeling results revealed a significant group x time effect for SBP (p<.01). The TT group showed greater SBP reductions at months 3 (−8.0 vs. −1.9), 6 (−10.0 vs. −0.7), and 12: (−11.6 vs. −0.4 mmHg; all p-values <0.04). (4) Conclusion: The TT app was beneficial in reducing SBP levels among adults with stage 1 systolic HTN. The TT app may be a promising, scalable first-line tactic for stage 1 HTN. Preparations are underway for an efficacy RCT involving uncontrolled stage 1 HTN patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7143262/

 

Improve Cardiovascular and Metabolic Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes with Yoga

Improve Cardiovascular and Metabolic Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Yoga practices such as cleansing processes, asanas, pranayama, mudras, bandha, meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation are known to reduce blood glucose levels and to help in the management of comorbid disease conditions associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus, resulting in significant positive clinical outcomes.” – Arkiath Veettil Raveendran

 

Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States and nearly 600 million people worldwide have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type II Diabetes results from a resistance of tissues, especially fat tissues, to the ability of insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels rise producing hyperglycemia. Diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.

 

Type 2 diabetes is a common and increasingly prevalent illness that is largely preventable. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world. A leading cause of this is a sedentary life style. Unlike Type I Diabetes, Type II does not require insulin injections. Instead, the treatment and prevention of Type 2 Diabetes focuses on diet, exercise, and weight control. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetes. A mindfulness practice that combines mindfulness with exercise is yoga and it has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of Type II Diabetes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga-based lifestyle treatment and composite treatment goals in Type 2 Diabetes in a rural South Indian setup- a retrospective study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7156497/), Arumugam and colleagues recruited adults with Type 2 Diabetes in rural India and randomly assigned them to either standard care or to 6 months of 1 hour daily supervised yoga practice “comprised of loosening practices, asanas, pranayama, relaxation techniques, and meditation.” They were measured before and after treatment for blood levels of A1c, LDL and HDL-cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, postprandial blood glucose, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, weight, total cholesterol, triglyceride, and body mass index (BMI).

 

They found that for the most part the control group had deterioration of most measures of their cardiovascular and metabolic health while the yoga group had significant improvements in all measures, including blood fats and glucose, blood pressure, and body weight, except total triglycerides. Hence, the patients with Type 2 Diabetes markedly reduced their risk factors for cardiovascular disease while the control group increased their risk.

 

These are very encouraging results that yoga practice can improve the health of patients with Type 2 Diabetes in rural India and lower their risk of developing serious cardiovascular disease. It would be important in future research to include another condition of perhaps aerobic exercise to evaluate if yoga practice confers extra benefits beyond its exercise effects. Regardless, the results suggest that yoga practice improves the physical well-being of patients with Type 2 Diabetes in rural settings.

 

So, improve cardiovascular and metabolic symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes with yoga.

 

Yoga is considered to be a promising, cost-effective option in the treatment and prevention of diabetes, with data from several studies suggesting that yoga and other mind-body therapies can reduce stress-related hyperglycemia and have a positive effect on blood glucose control.” – Diabetes UK

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Arumugam, G., Nagarathna, R., Majumdar, V., Singh, M., Srinivasalu, R., Sanjival, R., Ram, V. S., & Nagendra, H. R. (2020). Yoga-based lifestyle treatment and composite treatment goals in Type 2 Diabetes in a rural South Indian setup- a retrospective study. Scientific reports, 10(1), 6402. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-63133-1

 

Abstract

This multicentre retrospective study examined the effects of adjunct yoga-treatment in achieving composite cardiovascular goals for type 2 diabetes (T2D), set forth by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) in rural Indian settings. Records were extracted for 146 T2D patients, aged ≥20–70 years, and treated under the “Apollo Total Health Programme” for rural diabetes management, for the period April 2016 to November 2016. The study cohort comprised of two treatment groups (n = 73 each); non-yoga group (standard of care) and yoga group (adjunct yoga-treatment). Propensity score matching was applied between the study groups to define the cohort. Composite cardiovascular scores were based on the combination of individual ADA goals; A1c < 7%, blood pressure (BP) < 140/90 mmHg, stringent BP (<130/80 mmHg) and lipid, LDL-C < 100 mg/dl [risk factor for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease]. Logistic regression was used to compare between the two treatment groups. Compared to standard of care, adjunct yoga-treatment was found to significantly facilitate the attainment of ADA composite score by 8-fold; A1c, ~2-fold; LDL-C, ~2-fold; BP < 140/90 mmHg and <130/80 mmHg by ~8-and ~6-fold respectively. This study provides the first evidence for significant efficacy of adjunct yoga-treatment for the attainment of favourable treatment goals for T2D in rural Indian settings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7156497/

 

Improve Cardiovascular Function with Qigong

Improve Cardiovascular Function with Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Heart rate, respiratory rate, systolic blood pressure and rate-pressure product were significantly decreased during Qi-training. From these results, we suggest that… Qi-training has psychological effects that indicate stabilization the of cardiovascular system.” – Michelle Fletcher

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. Lifestyle changes have proved to be quite effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. These include quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Contemplative practices, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. These practices have also been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of other lifestyle changes needed such as smoking cessationweight reduction and stress reduction.

 

Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient mindfulness practices involving slow prescribed movements. They are gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, are inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, they can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. Since Tai Chi and Qigong are both mindfulness practices and exercises, they may be an acceptable and effective method to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

 

In today’s Research News article “Qigong for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6956616/), Hartley and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research literature on the effectiveness of Qigong practice to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. They identified 12 published randomized controlled trials with a total of 1369 participants.

 

They report that in a couple of studies that followed up 20 to 30 years after Qigong training that there was a significant reduction in all-cause mortality. They also report that Qigong training produced significant reductions in systolic blood pressure and blood fat levels including total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoproteins. They found that the published trials, though, had significant risks of bias.

 

The primary conclusion was that larger better controlled trials are needed. But the results are promising and suggest that Qigong training reduced risk factors for cardiovascular disease. This gentle exercise may be an effective treatment to change lifestyle, increasing exercise, decreasing the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, and maybe increasing longevity.

 

So, improve cardiovascular function with Qigong.

 

“tai chi may help lower blood pressure. A review of 26 studies found average drops of several points in blood pressure values in people who did tai chi.” – Harvard Heart Letter

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Hartley, L., Lee, M. S., Kwong, J. S., Flowers, N., Todkill, D., Ernst, E., & Rees, K. (2015). Qigong for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 2015(6), CD010390. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD010390.pub2

 

Abstract

Background

Two major determinants of cardiovascular disease (CVD) are a sedentary lifestyle and stress. Qigong involves physical exercise, mind regulation and breathing control to restore the flow of Qi (a pivotal life energy). As it is thought to help reduce stress and involves exercise, qigong may be an effective strategy for the primary prevention of CVD.

Objectives

To determine the effectiveness of qigong for the primary prevention of CVD.

Search methods

We searched the following electronic databases: the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (November 2014, Issue 10 of 12); MEDLINE (Ovid) (1946 to 2014 October week 4); EMBASE Classic + EMBASE (Ovid) (1947 to 2014 November 4); Web of Science Core Collection (1970 to 31 October 2014); Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE), Health Technology Assessment Database and Health Economics Evaluations Database (November 2014, Issue 4 of 4). We searched several Asian databases (inception to July 2013) and the Allied and Complementary Medicine Database (AMED) (inception to December 2013), as well as trial registers and reference lists of reviews and articles; we also approached experts in the field and applied no language restrictions in our search.

Selection criteria

Randomised controlled trials lasting at least three months involving healthy adults or those at high risk of CVD. Trials examined any type of qigong, and comparison groups provided no intervention or minimal intervention. Outcomes of interest included clinical CVD events and major CVD risk factors. We did not include trials that involved multi‐factorial lifestyle interventions or weight loss.

Data collection and analysis

Two review authors independently selected trials for inclusion. Two review authors extracted data from included studies and assessed the risk of bias.

Main results

We identified 11 completed trials (1369 participants) and one ongoing trial. Trials were heterogeneous in participants recruited, qigong duration and length of follow‐up periods. We were unable to ascertain the risk of bias in nine trials published in Chinese, as insufficient methodological details were reported and we were unable to contact the study authors to clarify this.

We performed no meta‐analyses, as trials were small and were at significant risk of bias. Clinical events were detailed in subsequent reports of two trials when statistically significant effects of qigong were seen for all‐cause mortality, stroke mortality and stroke incidence at 20 to 30 years after completion of the trials. However, these trials were designed to examine outcomes in the short term, and it is not clear whether qigong was practised during extended periods of follow‐up; therefore effects cannot be attributed to the intervention. None of the included studies reported other non‐fatal CVD events.

Six trials provided data that could be used to examine the effects of qigong on blood pressure. Reductions in systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) were seen in three and two trials, respectively. Three trials examined the effects of qigong on blood lipids when favourable effects were seen in one trial for total cholesterol, low‐density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides, and two trials showed favourable effects on high‐density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. The only trial considered at low risk of selection and detection bias did not demonstrate statistically significant effects on CVD risk factors with qigong, but this study was small and was underpowered. None of the included studies reported incidence of type 2 diabetes (T2D), adverse events, quality of life or costs.

Authors’ conclusions

Currently, very limited evidence is available on the effectiveness of qigong for the primary prevention of CVD. Most of the trials included in this review are likely to be at high risk of bias, so we have very low confidence in the validity of the results. Publication of the ongoing trial will add to the limited evidence base, but further trials of high methodological quality with sufficient sample size and follow‐up are needed to be incorporated in an update of this review before the effectiveness of qigong for CVD prevention can be established.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6956616/

 

Reduce Anxiety and Depression in Coronary Heart Disease Patients with Tai Chi

Reduce Anxiety and Depression in Coronary Heart Disease Patients with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai chi is an interesting, promising exercise option. I think based on what we found, it’s a reasonable and safe step to offer tai chi within cardiac rehab.” – Elena Salmoriago-Blotcher

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. There are myriads of treatments that have been developed to treat cardiovascular disease including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. Importantly, lifestyle changes have proved to be quite effective. These include quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Contemplative practices, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. These practices have also been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of other lifestyle changes needed such as smoking cessationweight reduction and stress reduction.

 

Cardiac rehabilitation programs for patients recovering from implantation of a stent for coronary heart disease, emphasize lifestyle changes. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, 60% of coronary heart disease patients decline participation, making these patients at high risk for a heart attack.  Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient mindfulness practices involving slow prescribed movements. They are gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, are inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, they can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. Since Tai Chi is both a mindfulness practice and a gentle exercise, it may be an acceptable, safe, and effective treatment for coronary heart disease patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “The 24-Form Tai Chi Improves Anxiety and Depression and Upregulates miR-17-92 in Coronary Heart Disease Patients After Percutaneous Coronary Intervention.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7078346/), Liu and colleagues recruited coronary heart disease patients who had a myocardial infarction and a stent implanted less than 4 days prior. The patients received usual care and were randomly assigned to receive either no further treatment or Tai Chi practice twice a day for 60 minutes for 10 months. They were measured before and after the 10-month practice period for anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and quality of life. In addition, blood was drawn and measured for miR-17-92.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group, the group that received Tai Chi training had significantly lower levels of anxiety, depression, and perceived stress and significantly higher levels of quality of life and miR-17-92. In addition, they found that the higher the levels of miR-17-92 the lower the levels of anxiety, depression, and perceived stress.

 

It should be noted that the control condition was not active. Future research should have an active control that performed some other activity of comparable duration, perhaps another type of exercise or health education. Nevertheless, the results show that Tai Chi practice can significantly improve the psychological well-being of coronary heart disease patients after surgery to insert a stent.

 

Prior research has demonstrated the RNA segments are associated with anxiety and depression. The current research also detected this relationship. But the study also demonstrated that the improvements in anxiety, depression, and perceived stress were associated with increased levels of miR-17-92. This may indicate a mechanism of action by which Tai Chi practice improves psychological well-being. It remains for future research to further explore this interesting possibility.

 

So, reduce anxiety and depression in coronary heart disease patients with Tai Chi.

 

Tai chi shows promise for patients with existing heart disease. Participants in the intensive tai chi program were significantly more active, lost more weight and reported a higher quality of life.” – CardioSmart

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Liu, J., Yu, P., Lv, W., & Wang, X. (2020). The 24-Form Tai Chi Improves Anxiety and Depression and Upregulates miR-17-92 in Coronary Heart Disease Patients After Percutaneous Coronary Intervention. Frontiers in physiology, 11, 149. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2020.00149

 

Abstract

Background

Anxiety and depression are common symptoms in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). The 24-form Tai Chi may exert a protective function for CHD patients after PCI by improving anxiety and depression.

Methods

Patients who received PCI after 1–4 days were randomly assigned to the 24-form Tai Chi group (TG) and the control group (CG). The differences in anxiety and depression, using the Medical Outcomes Study 36−item Short−Form Health Survey (SF-36), before and after an average of 10 months of Tai Chi intervention were compared in both groups to analyze the effects of Tai Chi on the emotion and the life quality of CHD patients. Meanwhile, the relative levels of miR-17-92 were measured by using real-time qPCR. The association between the relative levels of miR-17-92 and the anxiety and the depression of CHD patients after PCI was analyzed. Adjusted Cox models were used to explore the effect of Tai Chi exercise in CHD patients.

Results

After 10 months of intervention, the changes in the anxiety subscale (P = 0.002), in the depression subscale (P = 0.008), and in the stress (P = 0.015) scores were higher in the TG group when compared to those of the CG group. The proportion of anxious (P = 0.045) and depressed subjects (P = 0.042) in the TG group was lower than that in the CG group. On the other hand, the increase in the SF-36 scores and in the relative levels of miR-17-92 was significantly higher in the TG group when compared with that of the CG group (P < 0.05). The serum level of miR-17-92 had a negative correlation with the anxiety, the depression, and the stress scores (P < 0.01).

Conclusion

The 24-form Tai Chi improved the anxiety and the depression symptoms and upregulated the miR-17-92 levels in CHD patients after PCI.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7078346/

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being at Work with a Mindfulness App

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being at Work with a Mindfulness App

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

Mindfulness is not about living life in slow motion. It’s about enhancing focus and awareness both in work and in life. It’s about stripping away distractions and staying on track with individual, as well as organizational, goals.” Jacqueline Carter

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the people we work with. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is partially due to work-related stress which is epidemic in the western workplace. Almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This stress can result in impaired health and can result in burnout; producing fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy.

 

To help overcome unhappiness, stress, and burnoutmindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace. These mindfulness practices have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, it has become very trendy for business to incorporate meditation into the workday to help improve employee well-being, health, and productivity.

 

The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained teacher. The participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with busy employee schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, apps for smartphones have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of these apps in inducing mindfulness and reducing stress and improving psychological well-being in employees in real-world work settings.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness on-the-go: Effects of a mindfulness meditation app on work stress and well-being.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6215525/), Bostock and colleagues recruited healthy adults in the workplace and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to 45 days of daily mindfulness training with the “Headspace” app for their smartphones. They were measured before and after the intervention and 8 weeks later for blood pressure and daily well-being at 5 different times during the day, psychological well-being, anxiety, depression, job strain, job status, workplace social support, and mindfulness.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list controls the participants who used the mindfulness training app had significantly higher levels of psychological well-being, daily positive emotions, and workplace social support and significantly lower levels of blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and job strain. They found that these benefits only occurred in participants who completed 10 or more practice sessions. Most of these improvements were maintained at the 8-week follow-up.

 

The research design contained a control condition but the condition was not active. This leaves open the possibility of placebo effects, demand characteristics, and experimenter bias. Employees that used the app less than 10 times, however, could be seen as an active control and they did not show improvements. Nevertheless, the results suggest that using a mindfulness training smartphone app can improve the psychological well-being of employees in the workplace. Since they can receive the training at their own convenience and schedule, it is especially applicable to busy real-world work environments. The low cost of this training suggests that it can be used over large numbers of employees, at diverse locations.

 

So, improve psychological well-being at work with a mindfulness app.

 

“mindfulness and mindfulness-based practices improve self-regulation of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, linking them to both performance and employee well-being in the workplace.” Theresa Glomb

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Bostock, S., Crosswell, A. D., Prather, A. A., & Steptoe, A. (2019). Mindfulness on-the-go: Effects of a mindfulness meditation app on work stress and well-being. Journal of occupational health psychology, 24(1), 127–138. https://doi.org/10.1037/ocp0000118

 

Abstract

We investigated whether a mindfulness meditation program delivered via a smartphone application (app) could improve psychological well-being, reduce job strain, and reduce ambulatory blood pressure during the workday. Participants were 238 healthy employees from two large UK companies that were randomized to a mindfulness meditation practice app or a wait-list control condition. The app offered 45 pre-recorded 10–20 minute guided audio meditations. Participants were asked to complete one meditation per day. Psychosocial measures, and blood pressure throughout one working day, were measured at baseline and 8 weeks later; a follow-up survey was also emailed to participants 16 weeks after the intervention start. Usage data showed that during the 8-week intervention period, participants randomized to the intervention completed an average of 17 meditation sessions (range 0 to 45 sessions). The intervention group reported significant improvement in well-being, distress, job strain, and perceptions of workplace social support compared to the control group. In addition, the intervention group had a marginally significant decrease in self-measured workday systolic blood pressure from pre to post intervention. Sustained positive effects in the intervention group were found for well-being and job strain at the 16-week follow-up assessment. This trial suggests that short guided mindfulness meditations delivered via smartphone and practiced multiple times per week can improve outcomes related to work stress and well-being, with potentially lasting effects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6215525/