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Meditation Reduces Stress, Depression, and Anxiety and Improves QoL in Adults with Coronary Artery Disease


Four months of meditation improved quality of life and psychological symptoms in patients with CAD, according to research presented at ESC Preventive Cardiology 2023.



Four months of meditation practice improves quality of life (QoL) and psychological symptoms in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), according to research presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Preventive Cardiology 2023, the annual congress of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology.

ESC Preventive Cardiology 2023 was held April 13-15, 2023, in Malaga, Spain.

“It is common to feel low and anxious after being diagnosed with a heart condition,” said presenting author Ana Luisa Vitorino Monteiro, a meditation teacher and scientific researcher at the University of Lisbon in Portugal, in an ESC press release. “Our study suggests that meditation could be a useful addition to standard exercise rehabilitation.”

The association between mental health and cardiovascular disease (CVD) has long been recognized. For example, an analysis published in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports found that 20%-30% of patients experience anxiety following acute coronary syndrome and general anxiety disorder is independently associated with poor outcomes in patients with established CVD. Also, patients with major depressive disorder have been shown to have a 64% increased risk of developing CAD.

Vitorino Monteiro and colleagues examined the effect of meditation on stress, anxiety, depression, and QoL in 40 patients with CAD who had attended an exercise-based cardiovascular rehabilitation program for at least 6 months. The average age of participants was 65 years and 20% were women. Participants were randomly allocated to 4 months of meditation practice in addition to usual care, or usual care alone. Usual care was continuing with the exercise program alone.

Researchers used karuna meditation in the current study, which focuses on breathing and compassionate thoughts, according to the press release. Participants in the meditation group attended a weekly 90-minute session for 1 month. During the next 3 months, participants were asked to meditate for 20 minutes per day on their own or using a recording provided by investigators, and they received a weekly phone call to ask questions.

Stress, anxiety, depression, and QoL were assessed at baseline and after 4 months using the Perceived Stress Scale, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Beck Depression Inventory, and HeartQoL questionnaire, respectively.

Between baseline and the end of the study, average depression, stress, and anxiety scores decreased in the meditation group by 44%, 31%, and 29%, respectively, compared to 3%, 3%, and 3% in the usual care group. Over the same time, researchers observed average scores on the emotional dimension of QoL increased by 60% in the meditation group and reduced by 2% in the usual care group.

“Meditation is easy to do, can be done almost anywhere and does not require any equipment,” added Vitorino Monteiro in the release. “Our study shows that meditation can improve psychological symptoms and quality of life in patients with heart disease, which we hope could also be the start of making healthier lifestyle choices.”

Vitorino Monteiro presented the study abstract “Meditation as a stress management strategy in cardiac rehabilitation for coronary artery disease patients: a randomized controlled trial,” during the “Moderated ePoster 20” session on April 14, 2023, at 17:30 CEST.

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