Meditation Alter Short-Term and Long-Term Breathing

Meditation Alter Short-Term and Long-Term Breathing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, meditation healthfully slows down heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, sweating, and soothing all other sympathetic nervous system fight or flight functions.” – EOC Institute

 

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 respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure, while the parasympathetic division underlies relaxation, including decreases in respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. These include alterations of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) producing physiological relaxation including reductions in breathing rates. But the effects of meditation on breathing has not been well studied.

 

In today’s Research News article “Breath Rate Variability: A Novel Measure to Study the Meditation Effects.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329220/), Soni and colleagues recruited experienced meditators and nonmeditators who expressed interest in meditation. They were asked to close their eyes and sit quietly for 15 minutes. During which time they measured for heart rate and respiration.

 

They found that the meditators had significantly greater mean and median breathing time, standard deviation of the breath to breathe interval, standard deviation of the average breath to breathe interval, root mean square standard deviation of the average breath to breathe interval and significantly lower breath rate. These measures suggest that meditation practice produces short-term changes in breathing when at rest. In addition, heart rate and breath rate variability measures suggested that there was a significant increase in long-term parasympathetic input in the meditators.

 

These are complex but interesting results that suggest that meditation practice alters respiration over both the short and long term. On the short term, while at rest with eyes closed meditators have better, more relaxed, control of respiration. On the long term, meditator appear to have increased parasympathetic control of respiration. This suggest an overall relaxation of respiration. Meditation would appear to alter the overall balance in the autonomic nervous system toward increased parasympathetic (relaxation) control and decreases sympathetic (activation) control. This may explain some of the benefits of meditation for stress reduction.

 

So, relax short-term and long-term breathing with meditation

 

“all forms of meditation studied reduce physiological stress markers in one way or another, and therefore, all forms are likely beneficial in managing stress.” – Michaela Pascoe

 

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

 

Soni, R., & Muniyandi, M. (2019). Breath Rate Variability: A Novel Measure to Study the Meditation Effects. International journal of yoga, 12(1), 45–54. doi:10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_27_17

 

Abstract

Context:

Reliable quantitative measure of meditation is still elusive. Although electroencephalogram (EEG) and heart rate variability (HRV) are known as quantitative measures of meditation, effects of meditation on EEG and HRV may well take long time as these measures are involuntarily controlled. Effect of mediation on respiration is well known; however, quantitative measures of respiration during meditation have not been studied.

Aims:

Breath rate variability (BRV) as an alternate measure of meditation even over a short duration is proposed. The main objective of this study is to test the hypothesis that BRV is a simple measure that differentiates between meditators and nonmeditators.

Settings and Design:

This was a nonrandomized, controlled trial. Volunteers meditate in their natural habitat during signal acquisition.

Subjects and Methods:

We used Photo-Plythysmo-Gram (PPG) signal acquisition system from BIO-PAC and recorded video of chest and abdomen movement due to respiration during a short meditation (15 min) session for 12 individuals (all males) meditating in a relaxed sitting posture. Seven of the 12 individuals had substantial experience in meditation, while others are controls without any experience in meditation. Respiratory signal from PPG signal was derived and matched with that of the video respiratory signal. This derived respiratory signal is used for calculating BRV parameters in time, frequency, nonlinear, and time-frequency domain.

Statistical Analysis Used:

First, breath-to-breath interval (BBI) was calculated from the respiration signal, then time domain parameters such as standard deviation of BBI (SDBB), root mean square value of SDBB (RMSSD), and standard deviation of SDBB (SDSD) were calculated. We performed spectral analysis to calculate frequency domain parameters (power spectral density [PSD], power of each band, peak frequency of each band, and normalized frequency) using Burg, Welch, and Lomb–Scargle (LS) method. We calculated nonlinear parameters (sample entropy, approximate entropy, Poincare plot, and Renyi entropy). We calculated time frequency parameters (global PSD, low frequency-high frequency [LF-HF] ratio, and LF-HF power) by Burg LS and wavelet method.

Results:

The results show that the mediated individuals have high value of SDSD (+24%), SDBB (+29%), and RMSSD (+26%). Frequency domain analysis shows substantial increment in LFHF power (+73%) and LFHF ratio (+33%). Nonlinear parameters such as SD1 and SD2 were also more (>20%) for meditated persons.

Conclusions:

As compared to HRV, BRV can provide short-term effect on anatomic nervous system meditation, while HRV shows long-term effects. Improved autonomic function is one of the long-term effects of meditation in which an increase in parasympathetic activity and decrease in sympathetic dominance are observed. In future works, BRV could also be used for measuring stress.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329220/

 

Improve the Psychological State of Heart Disease Patients with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological State of Heart Disease Patients 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, like following a proper diet, getting adequate sleep, and keeping up regular exercise,” – John Denninger

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.” (Centers for Disease Control). A myriad of treatments has been developed for heart disease 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 heart failure patients decline participation, making these patients at high risk for another attack.

 

Safe and effective alternative treatments for cardiovascular disease are 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 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 continue studying the effects of mindfulness training on patients with cardiovascular disease.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction program on quality of life in cardiovascular disease patients.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6465573/), Jalali and colleagues recruited patients with cardiovascular disease and randomly assigned them either to a wait-list control or to receive and 8-week program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)  that includes body scan and focused meditations, yoga practice, and discussion. Training occurred once a week for 2.5 hours and included daily home practice. They were measured before and after training and 3 months later for self-efficacy and their health.

 

They found that compared to baseline and the wait-list control group, the group that received the program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) had significantly increased self-efficacy and quality of life that persisted 3 months after treatment. Hence. MBSR training appears to be safe, effective, and lasting treatment that is very helpful for patients with cardiovascular disease, improving self-efficacy and quality of life.

 

The improved self-efficacy is very important. It suggests that the patients feel better able to control their health. It suggests that they are more willing to take control of their lives to improve their health. It is well known that changes in lifestyle are very important for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. So, improved self-efficacy would predict that the patients would be more likely to adopt and maintain these lifestyle changes. This would inevitably lead to an improved health and quality of life.

 

So, improve the psychological state of heart disease patients with mindfulness.

 

“Given the proven role of stress in heart attacks and coronary artery disease, effective meditation would be appropriate for almost all patients with coronary artery disease.” – Joon Sup Lee

 

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

 

Jalali, D., Abdolazimi, M., Alaei, Z., & Solati, K. (2019). Effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction program on quality of life in cardiovascular disease patients. International journal of cardiology. Heart & vasculature, 23, 100356. doi:10.1016/j.ijcha.2019.100356

 

Abstract

Introduction

Cardiovascular disease is one of the most fatal physical illnesses that impose many financial losses on societies every year.

Aim

This study was to investigate the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program on self-efficacy and quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease.

Material and methods

The samples of this clinical trial were 60 patients who were selected by convenience sampling from patients were diagnosed, clinically interviewed by a cardiologist and randomized to two groups; experimental and control, and then completed Sherer et al. General Self-Efficacy Scale and 36-item Short Form Survey three times; pre-test, post-test, and after 3 months of follow-up. MBSR Program includes the methods that patients learn to calm their minds and body to help them cope with disease that was based on self-efficacy and quality of life. Data analysis was performed by the SPSS v22 using t-test and ANOVA.

Results

The results show that the mean pre-test scores of self-efficacy and quality of life of patients were not significantly different between the experimental and control groups (P > 0.05). However, the mean scores of the two variables were found to be significantly different between the experimental group and the control group on the post-test and follow-up as the research hypotheses were examined (P < 0.01). So that the means of self-efficacy were 60.80 ± 5.91 and 60.40 ± 7.03 and quality of life were 103.80 ± 9.35 and 101.10 ± 9.13 at post-test and 3 months later respectively in experimental group.

Conclusion

Self-efficacy and quality of life of cardiovascular patients could be improved by providing an MBSR program.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6465573/

 

Affect the Brain with Religious Chanting

Affect the Brain with Religious Chanting

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

According to a recent medical report, chanting Om has been associated with reducing stress. One of the biggest health benefits of Om chanting is that it brings down stress levels. It provides relief from anxiety and tension. Regular chanting ensures that you feel peaceful from within and are less distracted while doing any form of work.” – Pavankumar elkoochi

 

Contemplative practices have been shown to improve health and well-being. One ancient practice that is again receiving acceptance and use is chanting. It is a very common component of many contemplative practices. Chanting is claimed to be helpful in contemplative practice and to help improve physical and mental well-being. But there is very little empirical research on chanting or its effectiveness.

 

The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity.  Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread area. and have found that meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits. What changes in the brain that may occur with chanting are not known.

 

In today’s Research News article “The neurophysiological correlates of religious chanting.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6414545/), Gao and colleagues recruited participants who practiced Buddhist chanting for at least one year for 15 minutes per day. The participants were measured for brain electrical activity with the electroencephalogram (EEG) and for cardiac activity with an electrocardiogram (ECG) under 3 conditions, rest, silent Buddhist chanting (religious chanting), and silent chanting Santa Claus (non-religious chanting). One Buddhist monk who had spent years chanting underwent a function Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) brain scan under similar conditions.

 

They found that the fMRI revealed altered activity in the posterior cingulate cortex during religious vs. non-religious chanting. In the experienced chanters the EEG activity was found to have significantly higher power in the Delta low frequency region (1-4 Hertz) from the posterior cingulate cortex region during religious, but not non-religious chanting. In addition, the ECG had significantly lower power during religious, but not non-religious chanting.

 

These findings are very interesting and suggest that religious chanting has specific effects upon the brain and peripheral nervous system that might explain some of the benefits of this chanting. The lowered cardiac power suggests relaxation and a predominance of the parasympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system. This could in part be responsible for anti-stress effects of meditation practice.

 

The posterior cingulate cortex has been shown through multiple lines of evidence to be involved in self-referential thinking. Delta frequency waves are associated with reduced actual activity as they are increased during light sleep. Hence the results suggest that religious chanting suppresses thinking about the self. This is exactly what most meditation practices attempt to do. The results, then suggest that religious chanting is an effective contemplative practice in altering the brain activity to reduce self-referential thinking and peripheral nervous system activity to increase relaxation.

 

So, affect the brain with religious chanting.

 

“Mantras give the wandering mind a focal point. They produce a beat and a flow that is easy for the mind and body’s energy system to grasp a hold of. When the mind wants to wander out of the meditative state, the mantra helps bring it back.” – EOC

 

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

 

Gao, J., Leung, H. K., Wu, B., Skouras, S., & Sik, H. H. (2019). The neurophysiological correlates of religious chanting. Scientific reports, 9(1), 4262. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-40200-w

 

Abstract

Despite extensive research on various types of meditation, research on the neural correlates of religious chanting is in a nascent stage. Using multi-modal electrophysiological and neuroimaging methods, we illustrate that during religious chanting, the posterior cingulate cortex shows the largest decrease in eigenvector centrality, potentially due to regional endogenous generation of delta oscillations. Our data show that these functional effects are not due to peripheral cardiac or respiratory activity, nor due to implicit language processing. Finally, we suggest that the neurophysiological correlates of religious chanting are likely different from those of meditation and prayer, and would possibly induce distinctive psychotherapeutic effects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6414545/

 

Lower Body Weight and Improve Heart Health with Yoga

Lower Body Weight and Improve Heart Health with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“A large number of studies show that yoga benefits many aspects of cardiovascular health. There’s been a major shift in the last five years or so in the number of cardiologists and other professionals recognizing that these benefits are real.” – Hugh Calkins

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.” (Centers for Disease Control). A myriad of treatments has been developed for heart disease 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. Cardiac rehabilitation programs for patients recovering from a heart failure, emphasize these lifestyle changes. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, 60% of heart failure patients decline participation, making these patients at high risk for another attack.

 

Safe and effective alternative treatments for cardiovascular disease are 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 lifestyle changes needed to prevent heart disease such as smoking cessationweight reduction, and stress reduction. Indeed, yoga practice is both a mindfulness training technique and a physical exercise. As such, it would seem particularly interesting to explore as a treatment to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Comparison of Blood Viscosity and Hematocrit Levels between Yoga Practitioners and Sedentary Adults. International journal of exercise science.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6413846/), Shadiow and colleagues recruited adults who had practiced Hatha Yoga for at least 3 years and sedentary individuals who had not exercised in at least the last 6 months. After a 12 hour fast and 24 hours without exercise the participants were measured for body size, blood pressure, and blood was drawn for assays of blood viscosity and hematocrit.

 

They found, not surprisingly, that the yoga practitioners had significantly lower body weights and Body Mass Indices (BMIs). Importantly, the yoga practitioners had significantly lower blood viscosity values than the sedentary individuals. Low blood viscosity is associated with cardiac health. So, the results suggest that consistent long-term yoga practice in healthy individuals reduces body size and improves indicators of heart health. These conclusions need to be tempered with the understanding that this was a cross-sectional study that is open to alternative explanations. But, the results support conducting a randomized controlled clinical trial to definitively ascertain the effects of yoga practice on weight and heart health.

 

So, lower body weight and improve heart health with yoga.

 

“people who took yoga classes saw improvements in a number of factors that affect heart disease risk. They lost an average of five pounds, shaved five points off their blood pressure, and lowered their levels of harmful LDL cholesterol by 12 points.” – Julie Corliss

 

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

 

Shadiow, J., Tarumi, T., Dhindsa, M., & Hunter, S. D. (2019). A Comparison of Blood Viscosity and Hematocrit Levels between Yoga Practitioners and Sedentary Adults. International journal of exercise science, 12(2), 425–432.

 

Abstract

Elevations in whole blood viscosity (WBV) and hematocrit (Hct), have been linked with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Endurance training has been demonstrated to lower WBV and Hct; however, evidence supporting the efficacy of yoga on these measures is sparse. A cross-sectional study was conducted examining WBV and Hct levels between yoga practitioners with a minimum of 3 years of consistent practice and sedentary, healthy adults. Blood samples were collected from a total of 42 participants: 23 sedentary adults and 19 regular yoga practitioners. Brachial arterial blood pressure (BP) was measured and the averages of 3 measures were reported. The yoga practitioner group had significantly lower WBV at 45 s−1 (p < 0.01), 90 s−1 (p < 0.01), 220 s−1 (p < 0.05), and 450 s−1 (p < 0.05) than sedentary participants. No significant group differences in Hct (p =0.38) were found. A tendency toward lower systolic BP (p=0.06) was observed in the yoga practitioner group; however, no significant group differences in BP were exhibited. A consistent yoga practice was associated with lower WBV, a health indicator related to CVD risk. These findings support a regular yoga practice as a valid form of exercise for improving rheological indicators of cardiovascular health.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6413846/

 

Heighten Mental and Physical Well-Being with Mindfulness Training

Heighten Mental and Physical Well-Being with Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others. If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered that mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can: help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, , improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.” – Harvard Health

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. Techniques such as Mindfulness Training, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

This research suggests that engaging in mindfulness practices can make you a better human being, with greater mental and physical well-being. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Training: Can It Create Superheroes?” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00613/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_951898_69_Psycho_20190404_arts_A), Jones and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the effects of mindfulness training on psychological and physical well-being.

 

They found that the published research presented substantial findings that mindfulness training enhanced physical functioning including improved health, decreased heart rate, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood cortisol and resistance to disease, including improved stress responding, increased immune system response, and decreased inflammatory responses. They also report the mindfulness training produces tended to protect against the mental and physical effects of aging, including reduced cognitive decline and reduced brain deterioration. In addition, they report that mindfulness training produces improved cognitive processing, including improved heightened attentional ability, improved neural processing, and alterations of brain systems underlying consciousness. Mindfulness training also produced greater resilience and fearlessness, including improved emotion regulation, reduced responding to negative stimuli, lower pain responding, and lower fear conditioning. Mindfulness training also produced more self-less and pro-social behaviors, including increased altruism, increased kindness, and compassion. Finally, they report that mindfulness training can produce some control over autonomic responses.

 

This review suggests that people who engage in mindfulness training become superior in mental and physical health to non-practitioners and have superior cognitive abilities particularly in regard to attention and higher-level thinking. This doesn’t exactly make them “superheroes” but rather better versions of themselves.

 

So, heighten mental and physical well-being with mindfulness training.

 

Ultimately, engaging in mindfulness meditation cultivates our ability to both focus and broaden our attention, which is a practical way to elicit psychological well-being.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

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

 

Jones P (2019) Mindfulness Training: Can It Create Superheroes? Front. Psychol. 10:613. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00613

 

With the emergence of the science of heroism there now exists both theoretical and empirical literature on the characteristics of our everyday hero. We seek to expand this inquiry and ask what could be the causes and conditions of a superhero. To address this we investigate the origins of mindfulness, Buddhist psychology and the assertion that its practitioners who have attained expertise in mindfulness practices can develop supernormal capabilities. Examining first their foundational eight “jhana” states (levels of attention) and the six consequent “abhinnas” (siddhis or special abilities) that arise from such mental mastery, we then explore any evidence that mindfulness practices have unfolded the supernormal potential of its practitioners. We found a growing base of empirical literature suggesting some practitioners exhibit indicators of enhanced functioning including elevated physical health and resistance to disease, increased immunity to aging and improved cognitive processing, greater resilience and fearlessness, more self-less and pro-social behaviors, some control over normally autonomic responses, and possibly some paranormal functionality. These improvements in normal human functioning provide some evidence that there are practices that develop these abilities, and as such we might want to consider adopting them to develop this capability. There are however insufficient studies of expert meditators and more research of adepts is called for that explores the relationship between levels of attentional skill and increases in functionality. We propose in search of the superhero, that if conventional mindfulness training can already augment mental and physical capabilities, a more serious inquiry and translation of its advanced methods into mainstream psychological theory is warranted.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00613/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_951898_69_Psycho_20190404_arts_A

Have Consistent Physiological Responses to Differing Circumstances with Mindfulness

Have Consistent Physiological Responses to Differing Circumstances with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Heart rate variability differs from basic heart rate tracking that measures beats per minute in that it actually measures the time variance between heartbeats. With this heart rate variability, you can actually get a good picture of the resilience of the heart organ, which is a good predictor of both well-being and longevity.” – Kyle Pearce

 

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 a 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 “Trait Mindfulness Is Associated With the Self-Similarity of Heart Rate Variability.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00314/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_925884_69_Psycho_20190305_arts_A ), Sun and colleagues recruited college students and had them complete a measures of mindfulness. The students were also measured for heart rate variability (HRV) under 4 3-minute conditions, “a calming phase, a mental arithmetic task, a recovery phase, and mindfulness practice.”

 

They found that the participants level of mindfulness was not significantly associated with any direct measures of heart rate variability. Rather, mindfulness was associated with the consistency of heart rate variability between the response on different tasks. Hence, students high in mindfulness tended to have heart rate variability responses in the different phases that were very similar. In other words, heart rate variability during calming, mental arithmetic, and mindfulness practice were very consistent.

 

These results are correlational and as such conclusions about causation cannot be reached. But it can be speculated that mindfulness keeps the responses of the autonomic nervous system consistent making it easier to cope with varying circumstances. This level consistent responding may promote health and well-being. This suggests that greater focus on what is happening in the moment (mindfulness) may promote the ability to regulate one’s physiological responses and thereby to adapt to differing circumstances.

 

So, have consistent physiological responses to differing circumstances with mindfulness.

 

“Meditation is one technique that may help improve Heart Rate Variability (HRV) in both the short term and long-term. The end goal is not just to increase HRV, but it is to help the body better recover from stress related damages.” – 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

 

Sun S, Hu C, Pan J, Liu C and Huang M (2019) Trait Mindfulness Is Associated With the Self-Similarity of Heart Rate Variability. Front. Psychol. 10:314. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00314

 

Previous studies have linked trait mindfulness with better self-regulation and adaptation. Heart rate variability (HRV) is a good physiological indicator of the capacity for self-regulation and adaptation. The present study explored the relationship between trait mindfulness and HRV from the viewpoint of crosstalking between different HRV parameter pairs, which would reflect the dynamic interactions between each pair of HRV parameters in different processes. We measured the trait mindfulness of seventy-four undergraduate students and recorded nine HRV parameters during the following four consecutive experimental phases: (1) calming phase, (2) mental arithmetic task phase, (3) recovery phase, and (4) mindfulness practice phase. The relationship between trait mindfulness and HRV was explored at the following three levels: (1) the absolute level, i.e., HRV parameters in four different states, (2) the difference-change level, i.e., differences in HRV parameters between different states, and (3) the crosstalking level, i.e., self-similarity of crosstalking HRV parameter pairs. The results supported the following hypothesis: trait mindfulness, as measured by the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), was significantly and positively correlated with the self-similarity of crosstalking HRV parameter pairs but was not significantly correlated with the HRV parameters at the difference-change and absolute levels. These findings indicate that as trait mindfulness increases, the ability to maintain ANS function homeostasis improves.

HIGHLIGHTS

– Trait mindfulness is associated with better self-regulation and adaptation.

– Heart rate variability (HRV) is a good physiological indicator of the capacity for self-regulation and adaptation.

– Trait mindfulness is significantly correlated with self-similarity of crosstalking HRV parameter pairs but not with the HRV parameters at the difference-change or absolute levels.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00314/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_925884_69_Psycho_20190305_arts_A

 

Decrease Hypertension with Yoga Practice

Decrease Hypertension with Yoga Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga, when performed mindfully, can reduce this type of stress-induced hypertension, while addressing its underlying causes. It pacifies the sympathetic nervous system and slows down the heart, while teaching the muscles and mind to relax deeply.” – Marla Apt

 

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.

 

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. Exercise is also known to help. So, yoga practice, which combines mindfulness practice with exercise would seem to be a good candidate practice for the treatment of hypertension. Indeed, yoga practice appears to lower blood pressure in hypertension. But yoga practices can contain a number of components including meditation, breathing exercises, postures, chanting, and mantras. It is not known, whether the postures included in the practice are necessary for the beneficial effects of yoga practice on hypertension.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga in Arterial Hypertension.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6375068/ ), Cramer and colleagues recruited adult patients with primary arterial hypertension receiving antihypertensive medication. They were randomly assigned to receive either yoga training that either included postures or without postures, or a wait-list control condition. The yoga practice consisted of 90 minutes, once a week, for 12 weeks of meditation, relaxation techniques, and postures for the yoga with postures group. The participants were encouraged and provided materials to practice daily at home. They were measured before and after training and 26 weeks later for systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

 

They found that at the end of training the yoga group without postures had a greater reduction in systolic blood pressure than either the control group or the group with yoga postures. But, at follow-up, 26 weeks later, the yoga group that included postures had a greater reduction in systolic blood pressure than either the control group or the group without yoga postures. Diastolic blood pressure was not affected. It should be noted that these benefits were obtained in patients taking antihypertensive medications. So, the yoga practice benefits supplemented those of the drugs.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that on the short-term yoga practice without postures is best for blood pressure reduction in patients with hypertension while for the long-term yoga with postures is best. The relaxation produced by practicing meditation and relaxation may have the immediate consequence of decreasing blood pressure but doesn’t appear to be sustained while the exercise involved in postures, like occurs with other aerobic exercises, may have more long-term benefits for the cardiovascular system.

 

These benefits are important as reducing blood pressure in patients with hypertension is important for their health, longevity, and well-being. Yoga appears to be a safe, effective, and relatively inexpensive treatment. In addition, yoga practice has psychological and social benefits that can help to maintain practice over the long-term.

 

So, decrease hypertension with yoga practice.

 

“Yoga, along with deep breathing exercises, meditation and inner reflection, is a good adjunctive and integrative cardiovascular approach to better health, including lowering blood pressure, as this data suggests,” – David Friedman

 

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

 

Cramer, H., Sellin, C., Schumann, D., & Dobos, G. (2018). Yoga in Arterial Hypertension. Deutsches Arzteblatt international, 115(50), 833-839. DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2018.0833

 

Abstract

Background

Yoga seems to exert its effect against arterial hypertension mainly through the associated breathing and meditation techniques, and less so through yoga postures. The goal of this trial was to compare the blood pressure–lowering effect of yoga interventions with and without yoga postures in patients with arterial hypertension.

Methods

75 patients taking medications for arterial hypertension (72% women, mean age 58.7 ± 9.5 years) were randomized into three groups: a yoga intervention group with yoga postures (25 patients, of whom 5 dropped out of the trial before its end), a yoga intervention group without yoga postures (25 patients, 3 dropouts), and a wait list control group (25 patients, one dropout). The interventions consisted of 90 minutes of yoga practice per week for twelve weeks. The data collectors, who were blinded to the intervention received, assessed the primary outcome measures “systolic 24-hour blood pressure” and “diastolic 24-hour blood pressure” before and after the intervention. In this report, we also present the findings on secondary outcome measures, including follow-up data.

Results

After the intervention, the systolic 24-hour blood pressure in the yoga intervention group without yoga postures was significantly lower than in the control group (group difference [?]= -3.8 mmHg; [95% confidence interval (CI): (-0.3; -7.4) p = 0.035]); it was also significantly lower than in the yoga intervention group with yoga postures (? = -3.2 mmHg; 95% CI: [-6.3; -0.8]; p = 0.045). Diastolic blood pressures did not differ significantly across groups. No serious adverse events were encountered in the course of the trial.

Conclusion

In accordance with the findings of earlier studies, we found that only yoga without yoga postures induced a short-term lowering of ambulatory systolic blood pressure. Yoga is safe and effective in patients taking medications for arterial hypertension and thus can be recommended as an additional treatment option for persons in this category.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6375068/

 

Reduce Stress and Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Tai Chi or Yoga

Reduce Stress and Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Tai Chi or Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The rate of individuals suffering from autonomic nervous system dysfunctions is fast on the rise, due to our high stress and stimulative 21st-century lifestyles. However unknown to many practitioners, there are several natural therapies which are proven to help support the balance of the autonomic nervous system such as meditation and often have fewer side-effects and are better tolerated than many pharmaceutical medications.” –  NaturalHealthBlogger

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings to demonstrate that Mind-body practices have highly beneficial effects on the health and well-being of humans. These include yoga, tai chi, and qigong, among many others. Because of their proven benefits the application of these practices to relieving human suffering has skyrocketed. Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Tai Chi training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements.  Yoga practice has been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness.

 

One way that these Mind-body practices may have their beneficial effects is by providing balance in the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic division underlies activation while the parasympathetic division underlies relaxation. When these divisions are out of balance the individual may be overly stressed or overly sedentary. Appropriate balance is important for health and well-being. A measure of balance is provided by the variability of the heart rate. Moderated heart rate variability reflects balance in the autonomic nervous system.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mind⁻Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6262541/ ), Zou and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of tai chi and yoga on a measure of autonomic balance; heart rate variability. They discovered 17 research publications reporting on research studies of fair to high quality.

 

They report that after both tai chi or yoga practice there are large significant reductions in perceived stress levels. Also, after practice there were small, albeit significant reductions in the normalized low-frequency component of heart rate variation and the ratio of low frequency to high frequency variations and significant increases in the normalized high-frequency component. These components are thought to be indicative of sympathetic and vagal modulation, sympathetic modulation, and sympathetic activity. These effects on heart rate variation components suggest that after tai chi and yoga practice there is better balance in the autonomic nervous system. Additionally, the published studies indicate that while both tai chi and yoga practice decrease stress and improve autonomic balance, that a minimum of 90 minutes per week of yoga practice produces better results.

 

These results are interesting and important. They suggest that tai chi and especially yoga practice promote health and well-being and may do so by reducing perceived levels of stress and balancing the autonomic nervous system. Yoga practice is generally a more intense exercise and it is likely that this greater intensity of exercise is responsible for yoga’s superiority. But Tai Chi is gentle, safe, and easily practiced conveniently without a professional teacher. Hence, it may be better adapted to integration into the daily lifestyle of the individual.

 

So, reduce stress and improve autonomic nervous system function with tai chi or yoga.

 

Practicing yoga is an excellent way to stimulate and bring circuitry to the important parasympathetic nervous system. The gentle movements and slow rhythmic breathing slow the heart and blood pressure. Yoga redirects blood flow to the reproductive and digestive organs. Regular yoga practice results in a sustained state of strength and health, as well as mind and body balance. Tai Chi is widely used for its variety of health benefits and its adaptability to any age or level of fitness. It is an effective technique that enhances your body’s ability to use the mind to get in touch with the body through the nervous system. The results of continued practice include increased awareness, strengthened nerves, and better coordination, to name a few.” – Aleksandra Eifler

 

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

 

Zou, L., Sasaki, J. E., Wei, G. X., Huang, T., Yeung, A. S., Neto, O. B., Chen, K. W., … Hui, S. S. (2018). Effects of Mind⁻Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of clinical medicine, 7(11), 404. doi:10.3390/jcm7110404

 

Abstract

Background: Heart rate variability (HRV) as an accurate, noninvasive measure of the Autonomous Nervous System (ANS) can reflect mental health (e.g., stress, depression, or anxiety). Tai Chi and Yoga (Tai Chi/Yoga), as the most widely practiced mind–body exercises, have shown positive outcomes of mental health. To date, no systematic review regarding the long-lasting effects of Tai Chi/Yoga on HRV parameters and perceived stress has been conducted. Objective: To critically evaluate the existing literature on this topic. Methods: Five electronic databases (Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, SportDiscus and Cochrane Library) were searched from the start of the research project to July 2018. Study selection, data extraction, and study quality assessment were independently carried out by two reviewers. The potentially identified randomized controlled trials (RCT) reported the useful quantitative data that were included only for meta-analysis. Results: meta-analysis of 17 medium-to-high quality RCTs showed significantly beneficial effects on HRV parameters (normalized low-frequency, Hedge’s g = −0.39, 95% CI −0.39 to −0.56, p < 0.001, I2 = 11.62%; normalized high-frequency, Hedge’s g = 0.37, 95% CI 0.22 to −0.52, p < 0.001, I2 = 0%; low-frequency to high-frequency ratio, Hedge’s g = −0.58, 95% CI −0.81 to −0.35, p < 0.001, I2 = 53.78%) and stress level (Hedge’s g = −0.80, 95% CI −1.17 to −0.44, p < 0.001, I2 = 68.54%). Conclusions: Stress reduction may be attributed to sympathetic-vagal balance modulated by mind–body exercises. Tai Chi/Yoga could be an alternative method for stress reduction for people who live under high stress or negative emotions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6262541/

 

Reduce Stress and Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Tai Chi or Yoga

Reduce Stress and Improve Autonomic Nervous System Function with Tai Chi or Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The rate of individuals suffering from autonomic nervous system dysfunctions is fast on the rise, due to our high stress and stimulative 21st-century lifestyles. However unknown to many practitioners, there are several natural therapies which are proven to help support the balance of the autonomic nervous system such as meditation and often have fewer side-effects and are better tolerated than many pharmaceutical medications.” –  NaturalHealthBlogger

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings to demonstrate that Mind-body practices have highly beneficial effects on the health and well-being of humans. These include yoga, tai chi, and qigong, among many others. Because of their proven benefits the application of these practices to relieving human suffering has skyrocketed. Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Tai Chi training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements.  Yoga practice has been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness.

 

One way that these Mind-body practices may have their beneficial effects is by providing balance in the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic division underlies activation while the parasympathetic division underlies relaxation. When these divisions are out of balance the individual may be overly stressed or overly sedentary. Appropriate balance is important for health and well-being. A measure of balance is provided by the variability of the heart rate. Moderated heart rate variability reflects balance in the autonomic nervous system.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mind⁻Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6262541/ ), Zou and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of tai chi and yoga on a measure of autonomic balance; heart rate variability. They discovered 17 research publications reporting on research studies of fair to high quality.

 

They report that after both tai chi or yoga practice there are large significant reductions in perceived stress levels. Also, after practice there were small, albeit significant reductions in the normalized low-frequency component of heart rate variation and the ratio of low frequency to high frequency variations and significant increases in the normalized high-frequency component. These components are thought to be indicative of sympathetic and vagal modulation, sympathetic modulation, and sympathetic activity. These effects on heart rate variation components suggest that after tai chi and yoga practice there is better balance in the autonomic nervous system. Additionally, the published studies indicate that while both tai chi and yoga practice decrease stress and improve autonomic balance, that a minimum of 90 minutes per week of yoga practice produces better results.

 

These results are interesting and important. They suggest that tai chi and especially yoga practice promote health and well-being and may do so by reducing perceived levels of stress and balancing the autonomic nervous system. Yoga practice is generally a more intense exercise and it is likely that this greater intensity of exercise is responsible for yoga’s superiority. But Tai Chi is gentle, safe, and easily practiced conveniently without a professional teacher. Hence, it may be better adapted to integration into the daily lifestyle of the individual.

 

So, reduce stress and improve autonomic nervous system function with tai chi or yoga.

 

Practicing yoga is an excellent way to stimulate and bring circuitry to the important parasympathetic nervous system. The gentle movements and slow rhythmic breathing slow the heart and blood pressure. Yoga redirects blood flow to the reproductive and digestive organs. Regular yoga practice results in a sustained state of strength and health, as well as mind and body balance. Tai Chi is widely used for its variety of health benefits and its adaptability to any age or level of fitness. It is an effective technique that enhances your body’s ability to use the mind to get in touch with the body through the nervous system. The results of continued practice include increased awareness, strengthened nerves, and better coordination, to name a few.” – Aleksandra Eifler

 

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

 

Zou, L., Sasaki, J. E., Wei, G. X., Huang, T., Yeung, A. S., Neto, O. B., Chen, K. W., … Hui, S. S. (2018). Effects of Mind⁻Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of clinical medicine, 7(11), 404. doi:10.3390/jcm7110404

 

Abstract

Background: Heart rate variability (HRV) as an accurate, noninvasive measure of the Autonomous Nervous System (ANS) can reflect mental health (e.g., stress, depression, or anxiety). Tai Chi and Yoga (Tai Chi/Yoga), as the most widely practiced mind–body exercises, have shown positive outcomes of mental health. To date, no systematic review regarding the long-lasting effects of Tai Chi/Yoga on HRV parameters and perceived stress has been conducted. Objective: To critically evaluate the existing literature on this topic. Methods: Five electronic databases (Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, SportDiscus and Cochrane Library) were searched from the start of the research project to July 2018. Study selection, data extraction, and study quality assessment were independently carried out by two reviewers. The potentially identified randomized controlled trials (RCT) reported the useful quantitative data that were included only for meta-analysis. Results: meta-analysis of 17 medium-to-high quality RCTs showed significantly beneficial effects on HRV parameters (normalized low-frequency, Hedge’s g = −0.39, 95% CI −0.39 to −0.56, p < 0.001, I2 = 11.62%; normalized high-frequency, Hedge’s g = 0.37, 95% CI 0.22 to −0.52, p < 0.001, I2 = 0%; low-frequency to high-frequency ratio, Hedge’s g = −0.58, 95% CI −0.81 to −0.35, p < 0.001, I2 = 53.78%) and stress level (Hedge’s g = −0.80, 95% CI −1.17 to −0.44, p < 0.001, I2 = 68.54%). Conclusions: Stress reduction may be attributed to sympathetic-vagal balance modulated by mind–body exercises. Tai Chi/Yoga could be an alternative method for stress reduction for people who live under high stress or negative emotions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6262541/

 

Quality of Life of Patients with Cardiovascular Disease is Higher with Spirituality

Quality of Life of Patients with Cardiovascular Disease is Higher with Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Positive beliefs, comfort, and strength gained from religion, meditation, and prayer can contribute to well being. It may even promote healing. Improving your spiritual health may not cure an illness, but it may help you feel better. It also may prevent some health problems and help you cope better with illness, stress, or death.” – FamilyDoctor

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.” (Centers for Disease Control). A myriad of treatments has been developed for heart disease 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 heart failure patients decline participation, making these patients at high risk for another attack.

 

Safe and effective alternative treatments for cardiovascular disease are 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 lifestyle changes needed to prevent heart disease such as smoking cessationweight reduction, and stress reduction. Indeed, yoga practice is both a mindfulness training technique and a physical exercise.

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred.” Spirituality has been promulgated as a solution to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. The transcendent claims are untestable with the scientific method. But the practical claims are amenable to scientific analysis. There have been a number of studies of the relationship of spirituality with the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality related to greater personal growth and mental health. So, it would make sense to review what is known regarding the relationship of spirituality and religiosity to the psychological state of patients with cardiovascular disease.

 

In today’s Research News article “Association of religiosity and spirituality with quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease: a systematic review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6196107/  ), Abu and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the relationship of spirituality and religiosity to the quality of life of patients with cardiovascular disease. They found and reviewed 15 published studies that assessed spirituality and/or religiosity and global, mental, physical, or disease-related quality of life. All studies were correlational in nature without any active manipulations. Eleven of the studies included patients with heart failure, 2 with acute myocardial infarction, 1 with congenital heart disease, and 1 with multiple diagnoses.

 

They report that 10 of the 15 reviewed studies reported significant positive associations between spirituality and/or religiosity and quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease; the greater the levels of spirituality and/or religiosity, the higher the quality of life. These results are correlational and conclusions regarding causality cannot be confidently made. Even reverse causation is possible such that a higher quality of life with heart disease produces greater spirituality and/or religiosity. In addition, only 2/3 of the studies reported significant results suggesting that the relationships are not highly robust.

 

The findings, though, regardless of causality suggest that spirituality and/or religiosity is related to better quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease. Spirituality and/or religiosity have been shown to be related to resilience and low levels of stress, greater mental health, and better adherence to pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic therapy. These relationships with spirituality and/or religiosity would tend to predict better outcomes and quality of life in the patients. It is also possible that the social relationships and support supplied by spiritual or religious communities are responsible for the relationship. Regardless, it would appear that spirituality and/or religiosity are associated with better quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease.

 

There are more than 50 studies in which religious practices were found to be protective against cardiovascular disease, including death due to heart attacks and strokes as well as against numerous risk factors such as high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels.” – Michael Murray

 

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

 

Hawa O. Abu, Christine Ulbricht, Eric Ding, Jeroan J. Allison, Elena Salmoirago-Blotcher, Robert J. Goldberg, Catarina I. Kiefe. Association of religiosity and spirituality with quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease: a systematic review. Qual Life Res. 2018; 27(11): 2777–2797.

 

Abstract

Purpose

This review systematically identified and critically appraised the available literature that has examined the association between religiosity and/or spirituality (R/S) and quality of life (QOL) in patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Methods

We searched several electronic online databases (PubMed, SCOPUS, PsycINFO, and CINAHL) from database inception until October 2017. Included articles were peer-reviewed, published in English, and quantitatively examined the association between R/S and QOL. We assessed the methodological quality of each included study.

Results

The 15 articles included were published between 2002 and 2017. Most studies were conducted in the US and enrolled patients with heart failure. Sixteen dimensions of R/S were assessed with a variety of instruments. QOL domains examined were global, health-related, and disease-specific QOL. Ten studies reported a significant positive association between R/S and QOL, with higher spiritual well-being, intrinsic religiousness, and frequency of church attendance positively related with mental and emotional well-being. Approximately half of the included studies reported negative or null associations.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that higher levels of R/S may be related to better QOL among patients with CVD, with varying associations depending on the R/S dimension and QOL domain assessed. Future longitudinal studies in large patient samples with different CVDs and designs are needed to better understand how R/S may influence QOL. More uniformity in assessing R/S would enhance the comparability of results across studies. Understanding the influence of R/S on QOL would promote a holistic approach in managing patients with CVD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6196107/