Women and Heart Disease
The high rate of cardiovascular disease (CVD) among women is well documented and greatly disturbing. Already almost 40% of all deaths in women are related to coronary heart disease and the percentage will likely increase with our aging population. Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)—the most common type of heart disease—is the #1 cause of death of women in the United States.
For almost three decades the total number of deaths from cardiovascular disease has been higher for women than men. While women are definitely waking up to just how serious the problem is, post menopause—when CVD is most likely to strike—they simply do not respond as well to treatment as men do.
It is often said that the onset of heart disease comes 10 years later in women. However, in the patient’s life the onset of heart disease is taking place over many years prior to a woman’s first diagnosis—years filled with unhealthy choices, behaviors and emotions. Eighty percent of women between the ages of 40-60 have at least one heart disease risk factor that can be controlled.
This is why the American Heart Association places so much emphasis on reducing the risk factors. Heart disease is approximately one-fourth uncontrollable factors and three-fourths personal choices that put us at risk. Several recent studies suggest that not only is prevention key but prevention steps taken at younger and middle ages are most important.
Obstacles to Treatment
For many years heart disease was considered primarily a man’s disease, so little attention was put on the condition in women. Women are less likely than men to be tested and treated. Medical personnel might not refer a woman for testing if she is youthful, seems healthy and is not overweight.
Because women have smaller hearts and coronary vessels, medical interventions are often more difficult for them. Also women have more heart attacks that are not diagnosed, a higher number of repeat heart attacks, and a greater risk of stroke after heart attacks than men do.
A Surprising Solution
Rather than relying only on medical procedures or pharmaceuticals, and rather than waiting for a clinically diagnosed onset, lessening risk factors is the American Heart Association’s preferred approach. Research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health found that Transcendental Meditation practice reduces heart disease and stroke by 48%—and no other meditation technique has been found to produce such effect. According to a 2013 American Heart Association statement, Transcendental Meditation is the only meditation practice shown to reduce high blood pressure and may be considered in clinical practice for the prevention and treatment of hypertension. This reduction may be associated with substantially reduced rates of death, heart attack and stroke. This form of meditation has proven itself to be strongly associated with cardiovascular health.
The TM technique is simple, natural and effortless, practiced sitting comfortably with eyes closed. It is not a religion, philosophy or way of life. Rather it allows the mind and body to gain deep rest and significantly reduce stress and other risk factors for heart disease.
Forty year NIMH veteran researcher and psychiatrist Dr Norman Rosenthal said, “One area (of published peer-reviewed research on tm’s benefits) that is particularly interesting is the cardiovascular area where there has been a repeated reduction in blood pressure, reduction in cardiac mortality and mortality in general.”
It is with all this in mind that we have created our website on the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program and women’s heart health.
The discussion and scientific reports in this site are specifically designed to provide you with an overview of some of the most important studies highlighting the causal and aggravating factors for cardiovascular disease, and how the TM program can avert or reduce both the factors and their outcome.
There is a great deal of overlap between what is relevant for men and for women, but in the last 15 years the medical profession has become aware that there are also some very important differences. Our goal is to highlight them in the context of the TM program for your understanding and good health.