I came across two fascinating statistics the other day, resported separately, in different publications. Together, they deliver a critical message about heart disease prevention. It was kind of amazing to run across both a cause of heart attack and effective ways to prevent a heart attack.
Heart Attack Risk
The first stat came from a study published in November 2012 in The Archives of Internal Medicine, which found that losing your job raises your risk of heart attack. Now, you may say, Duh! Did they need a study to prove this? But what's interesting is that the risk continued after the job loss ended. The researchers studied 13,451 people between age 51 and 75 for 18 years. Losing one job was associated with a 22% increase in heart attack risk; if you lost two jobs, the increase jumped to 27%, and a loss of four or more jobs added up to an unbelievable 63% increase in heart attacks. These numbers put job loss right up there with smoking, hypertension and diabetes in terms of heart attack risk.
How To Cut Your Risk
Those are numbers to ruin your whole day. Then I came across another study that put a smile back on my face. This study showed that doing one simple thing could reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by as much as 66%. For the study, researchers at the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention in Fairfield, Iowa, divided subjects into two groups. One group was taught to meditate and instructed to do it for 20 minutes twice a day. The other group was told to engage in other heart-heathy behaviors – eating healthy meals and adding physical activity to their lives.
At the conclusion of the study, which ran for nearly 10 years, the people who had meditated as often and long as recommended reduced their heart attack/stroke risk by 66%. Meditating eight times a week, rather than 14, still lowered the risk by 48%. Among ways to prevent a heart attack, this is an amazing result.
Learn To Meditate
The subjects in the study used Trancendental Mediation, which you can learn by taking a course of instruction. The simplest technique for how to meditate I've ever heard came from Mao Shing Ni, PhD, author of Secrets of Longevity 8 Week Program: Simple Steps That Add Years To Your Life, who described to me how he teaches people to calm and quiet their minds. Here's what he said: "Start with five minutes and use simple imagery. As you inhale and exhale, visualize the scalp relaxing and think the word, 'calm.' Go down each side of the body, relaxing each body part. Imagine negative things being discharged as black smoke."
Add a few minutes each day if you can. Twenty minutes twice a day is the goal. When your resolve falters, remind yourself that it's a super heart attack prevention technique.