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The effect of yoga and meditation on brachial artery reactivity.

01 Feb

Researchers from the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at Bridgeport Hospital, Connecticut examined the question of why stress reduction is so good for cardiovascular health, hypothesizing that yoga and meditation improve parameters of endothelial function.

In a 6-week pilot study, 33 subjects (mean age 55 +/- 11 years) both with (30%) and without (70%) established coronary artery disease (CAD) were given a course in yoga & meditation for an hour and a half, three times a week, and encouraged to continue their practice at home.

Systolic and diastolic blood pressures, heart rate, body mass index (BMI), fasting glucose, lipids, hs C-reactive protein (CRP), and endothelial function (as assessed by brachial artery reactivity) were all studied at baseline and after 6 weeks of yoga practice.

The study found significant reductions in blood pressure, heart rate, and BMI in the total cohort with yoga. However, yoga did not significantly change any of the laboratory parameters.

Additionally, there was no significant improvement for the total group in endothelial-dependent vasodilatation with yoga training and meditation compared with baseline (16.7% relative improvement from 7.2-8.4%; p = 0.3). But in the group with coronary artery disease, endothelial-dependent vasodilatation improved 69% with yoga training (6.38-10.78%; p = 0.09).

The study concludes that yoga and meditation appear to improve endothelial function in subjects with coronary artery disease.

Citation: Sivasankaran S, Pollard-Quintner S, Sachdeva R, Pugeda J, Hoq SM, Zarich SW. The effect of a six-week program of yoga and meditation on brachial artery reactivity: do psychosocial interventions affect vascular tone? Clin Cardiol. 2006 Sep; 29 (9): pages 393-8.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award