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European Journal of Preventive Cardiology

Clinical Articles, Lead Article

Cardiovascular benefits of meditation

Practising Acem meditation, a nondirective technique founded at the University of Oslo in 1966, can increase parasympathetic and reduce sympathetic nerve activity, while also increasing overall heart rate variability (HRV) in healthy adults, according to a study1 published recently in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Norwegian researchers monitored HRV, blood pressure variability (BPV), and baroreflex sensitivity (BRS) in 27 middle-aged subjects, during 20 minutes of regular rest with eyes closed, and then during 20 minutes of Acem meditation.

Haemodynamic and autonomic data were collected continuously and non-invasively. HRV and BPV parameters were estimated by power spectral analyses, computed by an autoregressive model. Spontaneous activity of baroreceptors was determined by the sequence method. Primary outcomes were changes in HRV, BPV, and BRS between rest and meditation.

HRV increased in the low-frequency (LF) and high-frequency (HF) bands during meditation, compared with rest. Power spectral density of the RR-intervals also increased. LF/HF ratio decreased non-significantly, and a reduction of LF-BPV power was observed during meditation. There was no significant difference in BRS, with respiration and heart rates remaining unchanged, the authors found. Blood pressure increased slightly during meditation.


1. Nesvold A, Fagerland MW, Davanger S, et al. Increased heart rate variability during nondirective meditation. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology 2012;19:773–80. 10.1177/1741826711414625

Published on: August 24, 2012

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