Background: Accumulating evidence that stress contributes to the pathogenesis and expression of coronary heart disease has led to the increasing use of stress reduction techniques in its prevention and treatment. The most widely used and tested technique is transcendental meditation.
Object: To describe transcendental meditation and review research on its use in the treatment and prevention of coronary heart disease.
Discussion: Transcendental meditation shows promise as a preventive and treatment method for coronary heart disease. Transcendental meditation is associated with decreased hypertension and atherosclerosis, improvements in patients with heart disease, decreased hospitalisation rates and improvements in other risk factors including decreased smoking and cholesterol. These findings cannot be generalised to all meditation and stress reduction techniques as each technique differs in its effects. Further research is needed to delineate the mechanisms involved and to verify preliminary findings concerning atherosclerosis and heart disease and the findings of short term hypertension studies.