Mindfulness meditation has been linked to improved emotional health and chemical stress levels; the ability to ease depression and anxiety; reduction and control of arthritis pain; and easing of substance abuse cravings. As it turns out, being mindful may also have a positive effect on the heart’s health and cardiovascular disease, and therefore improve overall health.
The International Journal of Behavioral Medicine recently published a study, which found a significant association between dispositional mindfulness and improved scores on four of the seven indicators of cardiovascular health. Indicators related to blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, height, weight, and waist circumference, plus eating and exercise habits were evaluated in the study. These variables were chosen due to their known risk factors affecting overall heart health.
The study had 382 participants who were born in the USA with a mean age of 47. Dispositional mindfulness was assessed using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) and cardiovascular health was assessed based on American Heart Association criteria. Cross-sectional multivariable-adjusted analyses were performed on the gathered data.
This study demonstrated preliminary evidence that dispositional mindfulness is positively associated with cardiovascular health. Dr. Eric Loucks, lead study author and assistant professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health at Brown University said:
“Mindfulness is changeable, and standardized mindfulness interventions are available.Mostly [mindfulness has] been looked at for mental health and pain management, but increasingly is being looked at for cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, smoking, and blood pressure.”
People who pay more attention to their feelings and experiences tend to have better cardiovascular health, according to the implications of the study results. Almost everyone can learn mindfulness practice and benefit from learning to be more mindful.
Heart disease is preventable with education and care. The American Heart Association provides an online tool called My Life Check, where individuals can estimate their heart score. This is a great first step on the road to a healthier lifestyle. Most people need to be proactive about their health before it is too late to be effective. Talk to a healthcare professional for more information, not only about substance abuse and your heart, but also on the ways mindfulness can help you to be healthier in many different ways.