Sobering Fact

Heart disease is the leading cause of death by disease for adults in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, about every 20 seconds someone suffers a heart attack, and about every minute someone dies from one.

Coronary heart disease is a condition in which the coronary arteries (the vessels that bring blood to the heart muscle) become clogged with deposits of fat, cholesterol, and other substances (collectively known as plaque), depriving the heart muscle of enough blood. When the heart is in this weakened and malfunctioning state, chest pain and a heart attack may result.

Many alternative therapies fault allopathic medicine for not placing enough attention on the possible triggers of heart disease. These therapies offer treatments that eliminate or lessen the need for drugs and surgery. Dean Ornish, M.D., a professor and researcher in San Francisco, has pioneered ways of reversing heart disease. His approach combines a number of alternative therapies, including vegetarianism (eating no meat, poultry, or fish), meditation, and yoga.

Meditation for Heart Disease

Following the premise that stress can boost blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, a relaxation-inducing therapy such as meditation is an important part of a heart disease treatment program. Meditation, however, does more than lower dangerously high levels of blood cholesterol and blood pressure in the body. This practice with ancient roots can quiet and clear the mind, improving a person's sense of peacefulness and control.

Research has shown that daily meditation can lower the blood pressure of those with hypertension. Studies of people with heart disease have proved that a treatment program that includes daily meditation (for 20 minutes or more) can increase blood flow to the heart and -- perhaps equally important -- boost feelings of well-being.

Here's a sample meditation that can be done once a day:

  • Sit on the floor with your legs crossed, keeping your spine straight. Use a cushion if needed. Rest your arms loose and your hands close to your kneecaps, palms facing up. Try to eliminate as many noises and distractions as possible, including unplugging the telephone.
  • Select one word or sound that is pleasant or meaningful to you. Mentally repeat your selection, over and over again.
  • Try to do this for about 20 minutes. If your mind wanders off to another thought, gently return it to the process of repeating your word or sound.