Beyond Cholesterol

Cynicism, hostility, and isolation have been identified as factors of heart disease

Continued from page 3

A recent and intriguing study, reported at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in 1998, was conducted by Dr. Mitch Krucoff, M.D, another Duke University cardiologist. Called "Monitor and Actualization of Noetic Trainings (MANTRA)," this double-blind study randomly divided 150 angioplasty patients into 30-person groups. Three of the groups received relaxation, guided imagery, or touch therapies. The names of the fourth group were inserted in the Western Wall in Jerusalem and given to Buddhist monks in Nepal, Carmelite nuns in Baltimore, and to groups of Moravians and Christian fundamentalists to pray for them by name. The fifth group received only standard medical care. Patients who received either touch therapy, stress relaxation, or guided imagery showed a 30 to 50 percent trend of improved outcomes during hospitalization compared to patients who didn't receive such therapies.

Although the study of 150 patients was too small to offer statistically significant comparisons, the results "are highly intriguing, and not what most traditional physicians would have expected," concluded Dr. Krucoff. "Our data show beneficial trends. Our goal was to conduct as scientifically rigorous and reasonable a trial as has ever been undertaken to look at what else, besides pills and procedures, might help us treat patients." A larger 1,500-patient trial is expected to start soon.

Prescriptions for a Healthy Heart

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These studies and others indicate the importance of emotional and spiritual health in maintaining a healthy heart. In addition to exercise, proper nutrition, nutritional supplements, and relaxation techniques, here are a few other tips:

1. Live in the here and now. Let the past go. Put it in its proper context and look at what you've survived. We are not life's victims. Life is a gift that was meant to be enjoyed and we can do that only when we thrive.

2. Forgive yourself and others. Perhaps the most important part of letting go of the past is forgiving. Carrying around toxic memories from our past is very similar to transporting old, rotting garbage in our cars.

3. Develop life-sustaining relationships with yourselfand others and leave the rest behind. Our social support systems mirror the way we truly feel about ourselves. If we are in unhealthy, damaging relationships, something within us is out of order with our highest good. It is best to minimize or terminate those relationships that do not truly honor who we are.

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Elaine Ferguson
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