Background: The metabolic syndrome is thought to be a contributor to coronary heart disease (CHD), and components of the syndrome have been identified as possible therapeutic targets. Previous data implicate neurohumoral activation related to psychosocial stress as a contributor to the metabolic syndrome. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of transcendental meditation (TM) on components of the metabolic syndrome and CHD.
Methods: We conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 16 weeks of TM or active control treatment (health education), matched for frequency and time, at an academic medical center in a total of 103 subjects with stable CHD. Main outcome measures included blood pressure, lipoprotein profile, and insulin resistance determined by homeostasis model assessment (calculated as follows: [(fasting plasma glucose level [in milligrams per deciliter] x fasting plasma insulin level [in microunits per milliliter]) x 0.0552]/22.5); endothelial function measured by brachial artery reactivity testing; and cardiac autonomic system activity measured by heart rate variability.
Results: The TM group had beneficial changes (measured as mean +/- SD) in adjusted systolic blood pressure (-3.4 +/- 2.0 vs 2.8 +/- 2.1 mm Hg; P = .04), insulin resistance (-0.75 +/- 2.04 vs 0.52 +/- 2.84; P = .01), and heart rate variability (0.10 +/- 0.17 vs -0.50 +/- 0.17 high-frequency power; P = .07) compared with the health education group, respectively. There was no effect of brachial artery reactivity testing.
Conclusions: Use of TM for 16 weeks in CHD patients improved blood pressure and insulin resistance components of the metabolic syndrome as well as cardiac autonomic nervous system tone compared with a control group receiving health education. These results suggest that TM may modulate the physiological response to stress and improve CHD risk factors, which may be a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of CHD.