Congestive heart failure.

Doctors Robert Schneider and Gary P. Kaplan answer questions on congestive heart failure and how transcendental meditation can help. 

Q: Can heart disease be averted? For instance, is it possible to change the course of a serious condition such as congestive heart failure?

Dr. Schneider:Congestive heart failure, or simply heart failure, is the end result of many forms of heart disease, such as coronary heart disease or hypertensive heart disease. It kills 300,000 people a year in the United States and carries a 50% mortality rate over five years' time.

Congestive heart failure is very difficult to treat with medicinal drugs or even surgical intervention. However, research on the Transcendental Meditation technique, conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, has demonstrated that individuals who are taking conventional treatments for heart failure, and who have added twenty minutes twice a day of Transcendental Meditation practice to their routine, have significant improvements in measures of heart failure as indicated by greater functional capacity in the six-minute walk test compared to health education controls. Related Scientific Research

Q: Does the Transcendental Meditation program also help relieve depression in heart patients?

Dr. Schneider: Yes. In the study on congestive heart failure that we have been discussing, the same individuals showed improvement in quality of life and mental health in addition to improvements in physical capacity of heart functioning, as shown by a clinically significant reduction in depression in the Transcendental Meditation practitioners as compared to controls.

This shows that adding an effective mind-body intervention program to usual medical treatment program results in significant improvements in both physical and mental health in patients with heart failure. This is a remarkable medical discovery, and it is very easy to implement on a widespread basis. Related Scientific Research

Q: Can someone with an already weakened heart who is suffering from congestive heart failure benefit from the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique?

Dr. Kaplan: A recent study published in Ethnicity and Disease documents improvement in measures of congestive heart failure, including exercise tolerance, after only three months of regular practice of the TM technique. Related Scientific Research

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Robert Schneider, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.B.M.R. has been awarded more than $20 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for his pioneering research on natural approaches to heart disease. Dr. Schneider is the author of Total Heart Health and 100 medical research articles, and he has been featured in more than 1,000 media reports, including CNN Headline News, The New York Times, and Time magazine.

Gary P. Kaplan, M.D., Ph.D. is a neurologist and associate professor of clinical neurology at New York University School of Medicine. He is also a recipient of the Albert H. Douglas Award from the Medical Society of the State of New York for outstanding achievements as a clinical teacher interested in promoting and improving the medical education of physicians.