Is mindfulness the new heart therapy?

The link between stress and heart disease is a medical axiom. It would therefore appear to make perfect sense to tackle disease prevention at the stress management and psychological level i.e. healthy in mind, healthy in body. Dispositional Mindfulness

Heart and Mindfulness

Dispositional minfulness can be developed through the practice of meditation and other mindful exercises and is the ability to be aware of your thoughts, feelings and actions at any moment in the day. It is sometimes described as 'being in touch with yourself'. People who are not in touch with their feelings, emotional responses and daily experiences display low emotional intelligence and have an increased propensity to act and react less appropriately to the ssituation , and this can cause increased stress. As a knock-on effect, the resulting increase in stress can lead to unhealthy or inappropriate behaviours such as eating sugary food, bingeing, smoking, not exercising (or too much exercising), anger and these actions simply result in further stress. Some people are naturally disposed to being mindful, but other people need to practice in order to achieve better levels.

Instinctively Thoughtful

Latest scientific evidence suggests that mindfulness works by disengaging instinctive or habitual thought processes supported by the subcortical regions of the brain and increasing 'the effort of thought' supported by the frontal lobes.

However, to date very little work has been conducted to actually measure the link between better mindfulness and risk factors pertaining to heart health. As a result, researchers from Brown University, published in International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, have demonstrated that there is a significant association between mindfulness and better cardiovascular health.

Levels of mindfulness can be measured, or self-assessed using a system called the MAAS score.The results showed that people with high MAAS scores had an 83 percent greater prevalence of good cardiovascular health compared to those with relatively low MAAS scores. The cardiovascular health markers used included BMI, physical activity, fasting glucose and smoking avoidance.

Interestingly, quality of diet as measured by fruit and vegetable consumption also showed a positive association with higher MAAS scores.

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