Is meditating good for the heart?

heart-beat-intervals

Let’s calm things down with some deep breaths: in…out…in…out. Relax. Feel your pulse rate slowing?

We’ve known for some time that there’s more to pulse rate than beats per minute. Heart rate variability–the change in intervals between beats–can be used to distinguish healthy hearts from diseased and damaged ones.

One sign of a healthy heart is slight, seemingly random variations in the intervals between beats. These variations seem to be governed by power laws which is somewhat of a puzzle in itself.

By contrast, a steady unchanging beat interval seems to be a sign of disease.

Now Nikitas Papasimakis and Fotini Pallikari at the University of Athens in Greece have studied the heart beat intervals in people who are meditating and found that the power law variations disappear.

That raises an interesting question: is meditating good for the heart or not? Papasimakis and Pallikari argue that the loss of power law correlations cannot be used as evidence of ill health because the correlations return as soon as the subject stops meditating. Fair enough.

But what does the ability to switch these correlations on and off mean for health? Nobody knows just yet but it’s  a fascinating area in which it’ll be interesting to see  where more data leads.

Ref: http://arxiv.org/abs/0901.4295

: Breakdown of Long-Range Correlations in Heart Rate Fluctuations During Meditation

8 Responses to “Is meditating good for the heart?”

  1. Tasukete Kure says:

    Anyone know where to find any similar studies on people engaged in physical exercise? Just curious about whether the power law correlations are present in that circumstance.

  2. CadMasterAdam says:

    i get the feeling from the paper that the meditation changes the heart entropy similar the phenomenon in quantum mechanics when an experiment is or is not observed. Ontologically speaking of course.

  3. Zarniwoop says:

    It’s be interesting to know how these heart patterns of people meditating compares to people sleeping.

    Of course, I am unaware of Zen Buddhists having a particularly high rate of heart disease or other cardiac problems.

  4. ZEPHIR says:

    The regularity of stroke pattern is apparently connected to heavy load. Even combustion engine strokes irregularly in its idling speed.

  5. CadMasterAdam says:

    Zephir. Interesting connection! i would like to know more of your thoughts on this correlation you speak of. the article doesn’t speak of patterns under loading. Could you briefly discuss?

  6. [...] meditation good for your heart? Check out http://arxivblog.com/?p=1155 – the answer is scientifically proven:-) #mediation #health [...]

  7. Zephir says:

    Deep breathing stimulates autonomic parasympaticus nerve in oblongata, which are affecting the action potential of cardiac pacemaker cells. You can achieve it, if you press you chin toward chest firmly, because it’s mediated by vagus nerve – by such way, you can get a holotropy breathing experience analogous to deep meditation after while.

    The increased parasympathetic stimulation increases level of action potentials in sinoatrial node. By my opinion it works like oscilloscope trigger: when triggering pulse goes low, a larger variations in triggered slope appear and vice-versa.

  8. [...] científicos y Meditación (II) Publicado el Enero 31, 2009 por Elias Acabo de leer en un blog, una referencia a un reciente estudio sobre la meditación y el ritmo cardíaco; el autor se dedica [...]