December 1, 2009
Over the past few years, I've grown more and more interested in what is described rather simplistically as the mind-body connection. It's common sense that the physical stimuli can alter our mental state. Pain hurts. But the converse is a bit more tricky. Can mental states alter the physical state. I'm sure everyone's known one of the positive thinking happy-go-lucky people. I'm sure their positive thinking works wonders for them. Some of us aren't so cheery, though. But what if you don't necessarily have to believe anything? What if simple mental exercises can still impact health? There's a growing body of evidence that says that it can. Here's an abstract from the recent American Heart Association's annual meeting. Patients with established coronary artery disease were randomized to usual care or usual care with meditation. The meditative group saw a 43% reduction in ALL cause mortality, not just cardiovascular disease. That's not a trivial thing. The caveats are that this was a very small trial (200 patients) with just African American participants. But if a pharmaceutical compound shows a 43% reduction in mortality in patients with established CAD, I can assure you that they'd be quite excited.