Meditation and stress relief for healthy living

Coronary heart disease patients who use stress-relieving meditation techniques reduced their rates of heart attack, stroke, and even death by nearly 50 percent, according to Caregivershome.com.

A nine-year study focused on 201 men and women averaging the age of 59 who were diagnosed with narrowing arteries. The participants were randomly assigned to two groups - one group received health education information, including dietary advice. The other group practiced stress-reducing transcendental meditation techniques. Both groups continued to receive medications and medical care.

The study, conducted at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, found a 47 percent reduction in blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, and psychological stress in the meditating group.

In the words of Dr. Robert Schneider, director of the Center for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management, "Previous research on transcendental meditation has shown reductions in blood pressure, psychological stress, and other risk factors for heart disease, irrespective of ethnicity. But, this is the first controlled clinical trial to show long-term practice of this particular stress-reduction program [reducing] the incidence of clinical cardiovascular events -that is, heart attacks, strokes, and mortality."

Schneider went on to say the use of transcendental meditation was akin to the introduction of a new medication for heart disease.

What does this mean to caregivers? Both caregivers and care receivers may benefit from such stress reduction techniques combined with physician-prescribed medications. Caregivers who experience high levels of stress can incorporate meditation and deep-breathing techniques into their routine, and can even do them with the person in their care! There are many books and DVDs currently available, as well as several informative Web sites. A particularly good site to try is www.selfgrowth.com. As always, consult with your healthcare professional first.

For more information contact the Behavioral Health Services North Caregiver Resource Center.

The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620. Information is also periodically provided by the Behavioral Health Services North Caregiver Resource Center. They may be reached at 565-4543 or 565-4625.

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