> Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have found that a widely practiced, stress-reducing meditation technique can significantly reduce the severity of congestive heart failure.
> Researchers evaluated 23 African American men and women, average age 64, who were recently hospitalized with New York Heart Association class II or III congestive heart failure. Participants were randomized to either the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) technique or health education – in addition to standard medical treatment.
> According to the study authors, TM most likely improves heart failure by reducing sympathetic nervous system activation associated with stress that is known to contribute to the failing heart.
> The study appears in the Winter 2007 issue of Ethnicity & Disease.

(PHILADELPHIA) – In this high-tech age of modern medicine, could it be possible to treat the leading cause of death in the U.S. through the power of meditation? According to a first-of-its-kind randomized study conducted by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, a widely practiced, stress-reducing meditation technique can significantly reduce the severity of congestive heart failure. The study appears in the Winter 2007 issue of Ethnicity & Disease.

“The results of this study indicate that transcendental meditation can be effective in improving the functional capacity and quality of life of congestive heart failure patients” said Ravishankar Jayadevappa, PhD, lead author and Research Assistant Professor in Penn’s Division of Geriatric Medicine. “These results also suggest long-term improvements in survival in these individuals.”

Jayadevappa and fellow researchers from Penn evaluated 23 African American men and women, average age 64, who were recently hospitalized with New York Heart Association class II or III congestive heart failure. Participants were randomized to either the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) technique or health education – in addition to standard medical treatment.

Researchers measured changes in heart function with a six-minute walk test, and measures for quality of life, depression, and re-hospitalizations. Changes in outcomes from baseline to three and six months after treatment were analyzed.

According to Jayadevappa, the TM group significantly improved on the six-minute walk test after both three and six months of TM practice compared to the control group. The TM group also showed improvement in quality of life measurements, depression, and had fewer re-hospitalizations.

This present finding is consistent with previous research demonstrating that TM reduces factors that contribute to the cause or progression of heart failure, such a high blood pressure, stress, metabolic syndrome, left ventricular hypertrophy (enlargement of the heart) and severity of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Further validation of the outcomes of this study is planned via a large, multi-center trial with long-term follow-up.

According to the study authors, TM most likely improves heart failure by reducing sympathetic nervous system activation associated with stress that is known to contribute to the failing heart.

This study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health-National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, in a collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania with the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management.

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PENN Medicine is a $2.9 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #3 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals, all of which have received numerous national patient-care honors [Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center]; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.

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