Advocating for Women’s Heart Health

Thirty-eight % of all deaths in women are related to coronary heart disease (CHD), more than the next seven causes of death combined. For almost three decades women have outperformed men in the raw numbers linked to cardiac mortality. While both women and their doctors once associated CHD with older males, heart health is now widely recognized as a woman’s issue. The Transcendental Meditation program can be a significant part of a woman’s solution.

At this time, the TM Program for Women is partnering with Sister to Sister: The Women’s Heart Health Foundation to support women in their pursuit of good heart health.

Anxiety, anger, depression, PTSD, loneliness, family and work stress have huge implications for women’s heart health. In the 1996 edition of Heart and Mind: The Practice of Cardiac Psychology, the evidence linking psychosocial factors with coronary heart disease could be summarized in a single chapter. By way of comparison, the editor of the 2012 edition notes that a recent PubMed search of “stress and cardiovascular disease” yielded 50,000 entries.

Cardiologists are not unaware. They understand that negative emotions, in addition to being a danger on their own, can produce, maintain and heighten physical risks. But physician training is biomedical. And high costs coupled with an aging population and a sharp increase in chronic disease leave them little leeway to address emotions through anything but pharmaceuticals. Beyond that they rely on others.

Initially one of those others needs to be the patient. Women need to think about their prevention and intervention options and advocate for themselves.

The first point of consideration should be what is effective. Over 300 published studies show the TM program to be a powerful change agent for psychosocial stress. The 50,000 entries in PubMed on “stress and cardiovascular disease” were counterbalanced by less than fifty randomized controlled trials testing solutions. The TM technique is one of the very few that, through this type of exacting research protocol, has been proven to successfully lessen negative emotions and reduce heart disease mortality rates in the process.

A second point of consideration should be what is enjoyable. A joyless emotional path does little to attract or retain participation. Millions of people throughout the world have learned and continue practicing the TM technique not just because it brings them excellent results but also because it is effortless, deeply relaxing, and pleasant to practice.

A third point of consideration should be what is holistic. Anxiety, depression and marriage conflicts are difficult, if not impossible, to put in separate boxes. With TM, the mind experiences the deep rest of transcendental consciousness and the body eliminates stress day after day, moving life in the direction of more balanced emotions overall.

A woman’s heart is sensitive—these are not the words of poets but of today’s medical experts. Through the Transcendental Meditation technique women have the opportunity to frame their sensitivity as a strength and in the process nourish both themselves and those who are most dear to their hearts.