Positive Associations of Dispositional Mindfulness with Cardiovascular Health: the New England Family Study

Int J Behav Med. 2015 Aug;22(4):540-50. doi: 10.1007/s12529-014-9448-9.


Background: Mindfulness (the ability to attend nonjudgmentally to one's own physical and mental processes) is receiving substantial interest as a potential determinant of health. However, little is known whether mindfulness is associated with cardiovascular health.

Purpose: The aim of this study is to evaluate whether dispositional mindfulness is associated with cardiovascular health.

Method: Study participants (n = 382) were from the New England Family Study, born in Providence, RI, USA, with mean age 47 years. Dispositional mindfulness was assessed using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS). Cardiovascular health was assessed based on American Heart Association criteria. Cross-sectional multivariable-adjusted log binomial regression analyses were performed.

Results: Analyses demonstrated that those with high vs. low MAAS had prevalence ratio (PR) for good cardiovascular health of 1.83 (95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.07, 3.13), adjusted for age, gender, and race/ethnicity. There were significant associations of high vs. low mindfulness with nonsmoking (PR = 1.37, 95 % CI 1.06, 1.76), body mass index <25 kg/m(2) (PR = 2.17, 95 % CI 1.16, 4.07), fasting glucose <100 mg/dL (PR = 1.47, 95 % CI 1.06, 2.04), and high physical activity (PR = 1.56, 95 % CI 1.04, 2.35), but not blood pressure, total cholesterol, or fruit/vegetable consumption. Exploratory mediation analyses suggested that sense of control and depressive symptomatology may be mediators.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated preliminary cross-sectional evidence that dispositional mindfulness is positively associated with cardiovascular health, with the associations particularly driven by smoking, body mass index, fasting glucose, and physical activity. If in future research mindfulness-based practices are found to consistently improve cardiovascular disease risk factors, such interventions may have potential to strengthen effects of cardiovascular health promotion programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Awareness
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / psychology*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness*
  • New England
  • Prevalence
  • Smoking / epidemiology


  • Cholesterol