A review of the effects of Transcendental Meditation on cardiovascular disease

Smina Khilnani, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the single greatest cause of death in the United States, accounting for nearly 2400 deaths each day. It is estimated that 79.4 million American adults have some form of the disease, and CVD mortality rates are greater than those of cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents and diabetes mellitus combined. Psychosocial stress is a nontraditional risk factor for CVD, and can contribute to the clustering of traditional risk factors as well as to vascular manifestations of the disease. The Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique has been researched as a cost effective intervention aimed at decreasing psychosocial stress. This literature review attempts to analyze randomized controlled clinical trials of TM on cardiovascular disease outcomes. Eleven studies met inclusion criteria and are described below, with statistically significant positive outcomes observed in each study. Studies are grouped by primary outcome reported in the categories of cardiovascular function, blood pressure, and exercise tolerance. The TM intervention significantly decreased insulin resistance, heart rate variability, and carotid intima media thickness and improved exercise tolerance compared to control groups. Seven studies also reported significant decreases in blood pressure among hypertensive and normotensive subjects. Five studies focused solely on African American subjects, a population that has disproportionately higher rates of CVD and hypertension, and found significant improvements in CVD outcomes. Further research is recommended to establish the efficacy of TM on CVD outcomes. Future trials should include larger sample populations, wider ethnic distributions of subjects, and longer follow-up to ascertain the impact of this particular stress reduction technique on cardiovascular disease.

Subject Area

Public health|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Khilnani, Smina, "A review of the effects of Transcendental Meditation on cardiovascular disease" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1457530.