Cardiovascular disease (CVD) kills one Australian every 12 minutes. It is the leading cause of death in Australia with 43,603 deaths attributed to CVD in Australia in 2013 according to the Heart Foundation.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) refers to all diseases and conditions involving the heart and blood vessels. The main types of CVD in Australia are coronary heart disease (caused by atherosclerosis), stroke, heart attack and heart failure.

9 out of 10 Australians have at least 1 risk factor for developing CVD (National Health Survey, Australian Government, 2001).

Risk Factors include:

  • High Blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High stress
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • High alcohol consumption (more than 2 standard drinks per day over a 12-month period)
  • Smoking
  • A diet low in fruit and vegetables (below five serves of vegetables (1/2 cup) and two serves of fruit each day (1 medium piece))

Despite knowing these risk factors and improvements in ways to prevent them over the last few decades, Australians are still at extreme risk. 1 in 4 Australians have at least 3 risk factors (The Heart Foundation).

Not only is correct diet, exercise and medications effective for prevention of heart disease, the latest research confirms that Meditation is also a very powerful tool.

Meditation is a tool that lowers most of the major risk factors contributing to heart disease. “Meditation can be a useful part of cardiovascular risk reduction,” says cardiologist Dr. Deepak Bhatt, a professor at Harvard Medical School. “I do recommend it, along with diet and exercise. It can also help decrease the sense of stress and anxiety.”

Evidence for meditations (Vedic) ability to reduce the risk factors for CVD include:

  1. decreases in blood pressure,
  2. reduced use of tobacco and alcohol,
  3. lowering of high cholesterol and lipid oxidation, and
  4. decreased psychosocial stress. (Walton et al, 2004)

This results in reversal of atherosclerosis, reduction of myocardial ischemia and left ventricular hypertrophy (causes for heart attack). Reduced health insurance claims for CVD and reduced mortality, also have been found with Meditation practice (Walton et al, 2004)

Even though meditation is a mental technique, it exerts its effect in the physiology also. “It (Meditation) appears to produce changes in brain activity. It also can lower your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, adrenaline levels, and levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress,” says Dr. Bhatt. All essential factors in preventing heart disease.

Prevention really is the best medicine when it comes to CVD. The best approach to good heart health is a holistic one. It involves looking beyond the symptoms to the root cause of the disorder, and meditation is a powerful tool for this.

Written by Tegan Wallis, Holistic Health Practitioner