Heartfulness meditation, a simple heart-based meditation practice aimed at attaining a balanced state of mind, helps in reducing stress and improving the quality of sleep, revealed a study.
The mixed-method study was conducted by US researchers during the Covid-19 pandemic and was published recently in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, said Heartfulness Institute, which has its global headquarters in Hyderabad.
Heartfulness meditation was associated with significant reduction in perceived stress and improvement in the quality of sleep of participants who completed the online-based meditation programme.
Kamlesh Patel, also known as Daaji, the guide of Heartfulness meditation, underlines the need to immediately address stress in one's life.
"The simple focus of life is to become better and better each day. To achieve this we need to be in a state of complete awareness about our self and raise our consciousness in tune with our true nature. Stress is the modern day ill created by our inability to focus on things that matter. Stress and its negative impact on our overall wellbeing has slowly but steadily taken control of every individual," he said.
"While we know Covid-19 as the pandemic, the build-up of stress and its ill impacts is the bigger pandemic and equally a bigger health crisis. Stress needs our urgent attention as well and in consistent practice of meditation we have the most effective vaccination to ward off stress and is the visa for living your life in joy," he added.
The study was conducted by Dr Kunal Desai, Dr Priti Parikh and Dr Alpa Desai of the Department of Internal Medicine, Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright University, Ohio, and Prof Dr Pratibha Gupta, Food Nutrition and Health Agricultural Research Development Programme, Central State University, Ohio.
Stress and lack of quality sleep are considered serious public health challenges despite modern lifestyles, comforts, and technological advances. The Covid-19 pandemic has genuinely brought attention to this pre-existing stress problem by making it significantly worse.
The study aimed to investigate whether using a virtual heart-based meditation program is associated with improved stress levels and quality of sleep. The researchers enrolled 63 participants to receive an eight-week virtually conducted Heartfulness meditation program. Of these, 36 (57 per cent) completed the entire eight weeks of the Heartfulness meditation programme.
The participants were recommended to attend a minimum of two out of a total of eight virtual trainer-guided group Heartfulness relaxation and meditation sessions each week. These sessions, conducted by one of the authors and a Heartfulness trainer (KD), included 5-7 min of relaxation followed by 20 min of meditation.
They were also provided instructions on using the phone application called 'HeartsApp' on their phones. They could connect as an anonymous seeker with a Heartfulness trainer through the application and meditate without any audiovisual interaction. They were also suggested self-practices to the best of their abilities.
"Our study showed that following Heartfulness meditation practice, PSS and PSQI improved significantly in the participants from different parts of the United States. About 31 per cent were healthcare professionals, and the entire programme was conducted virtually. Based on these observations, we propose that meditation programmes offered via virtual platforms can offer a convenient, helpful, and easily accessible tool to a large community at once to help improve the psychological wellbeing of individuals," said Dr Kunal Desai, who led the study.
"The results of qualitative analysis in our study bring a unique perspective to this aspect as we were able to show that the participants' subjective experiences strongly supported the results of the survey findings. Thus, these results enhance our understanding of how Heartfulness meditation practice helps reduce stress and improve the quality of sleep. Our qualitative analysis suggests these effects could be because a simple heart-based meditation brought a 'calming effect' in our participants, resulting in an 'inner peace'. Such an effect also resulted in inner changes in our participants, including positive thinking, accepting and empathic attitude, and an increase in awareness of one's own emotions and the needs of others."
This study adds to the existing literature supporting the benefits of Heartfulness practice, as reported by some previous studies showing the benefit of Heartfulness relaxation and meditation to reduce stress, burnout, loneliness, and improve the quality of sleep.
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Sleep is an essential function that helps in recharging our bodies and minds. Moreover, healthy sleep also helps the body in remaining fit and it staves off any diseases. When we do not get enough sleep, our brain does not function properly and it can impair our abilities to concentrate, think clearly and process memories. An adequate amount of sleep that an adult requires ranges from seven to nine hours.
However, work schedules, day-to-day stressors, a disruptive bedroom environment and medical conditions can prevent us from receiving adequate and peaceful sleep. Hence, a healthy diet and good lifestyle habits can ensure a good amount of sleep each night. However, for some people chronic lack of sleep may be a sign of a sleep disorder.
Sleep reflects one's state of mind and overall health in general. A good sleep is one which is age appropriate in duration, qualitatively divided into various sleep stages of adequate periods and which eventually makes a person feel refreshed in the morning and through the day. Although there is a wide variation in the amount of total sleep required by healthy adults to maintain a good daytime function, it is widely accepted that a good, consolidated 8 hours of uninterrupted night-time sleep is essential for majority of adults.
An adequate amount of sleep duration is extremely important to maintain good mental and physical health. A sleep deprived person often experiences decline in cognitive function, poor memory, inability to concentrate on tasks at hand and easy irritability with frequent mood swings. Even if the sleep duration is adequate, an interrupted and disrupted sleep with poor sleep quality devoid of deep sleep is also associated with excessive daytime sleepiness with declining cognitive function.
Lack of good sleep, both in terms of duration and quality, can adversely affect the physical wellbeing with such individuals being more prone to develop both infectious as well as lifestyle related diseases. With the millennial generation adopting a 24-hour lifestyle without any defined periods of sleep, increase in the total screen time during COVID-19 lockdowns due to exponential increase in online classes and meetings, and poor sleep hygiene, have all resulted in a variety of sleep disorders.
Ultimately, this very important aspect of keeping people healthy is not only being ignored but also leading to abuse of sleeping pills, alcohol and smoking. With rising stress levels and a constant pressure to meet deadlines, it is extremely important to maintain a work life balance and give oneself adequate opportunity and time to have a good night sleep. If anyone experiences any kind of sleep related issues, these should be brought to the immediate notice of the sleep physicians and expert opinion must be taken for timely diagnosis and management.
All in all, sleep is good and necessary. For adults, getting at least seven hours of sleep ensures proper daytime functioning which involves being alert for the day and being able to concentrate and not moody and tired through the day. Creating a night time routine that ensures that your mind and body are relaxed can be helpful in ensuring a good sleep for all individuals.(By Ayush Gupta)
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Many people believe that heart disease typically affects men. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of mortality not only among men, but also among women. But women are actually at greater risk if not detected early, and this exacerbates the issue.
Signs of poor heart health do not appear as visibly in women as it does in men. What this means is that if a man has a heart issue, there are specific symptoms like angina which can be spotted easily and the right course of action be recommended. The same issue in a woman may not result in a sign or symptom that can be easily spotted. So often, their symptoms go ignored or unrecognised and they do not receive timely intervention to correct the problem. The issue is so acute that today 1 in 3 deaths among women is due to coronary heart disease.
There is also a significant lack of self-awareness among women about risk factors and the prevention of CVDs. Women don't only attend to matters of the home, but they hold positions at leading companies, and continue to rise to the occasion and meet impossible demands on their time. Through all of this, they take care of the emotional needs of their family members and loved ones; and still culturally are predisposed to putting the needs of others before their own. The stress they experience, among other common risk factors, often goes unnoticed by those around them. And stress has a greater influence on CVD risk in women vs men. Along with stress, other factors like diet quantity and quality also have a greater influence on CVD risk in women vs men. Additionally, women are also impacted by female-specific risk factors for CVD like polycystic Ovarian syndrome PCOS, preeclampsia, pregnancy induced hypertension and gestational diabetes.
In such a situation where symptoms of a heart problem do not manifest visibly, it is extremely important for women to be aware of their own risk factors and adopt proactive measures to take care of their heart health. For example, one risk factor, stress has been linked to a greater intake of energy and nutrient-dense foods, mainly sources of sugar and fat, and to poor diet quality. Women can take simple steps like reducing unhealthy fats and products with high content of sugar and salt to improve the quality of their diet. Choose ingredients that are good for the heart, like oatmeal, wholegrains, fiber rich vegetables, blended oils with the right balance of fatty acids, legumes, soy products, and the like. Regular and consistent exercise, adequate sleep, and other such lifestyle modifications can help maintain heart health in the long term.
Furthermore with signs of poor heart health not manifesting visibly in women, it is crucial that they get regular health check-ups done to assess their risk proactively. Self-awareness and early identification of cardiovascular risk factors can lead to better prevention of CVD in women.
This World Heart Day, let's choose self-care. Get a simple heart check-up done and encourage other women in yourselves too, to get the same done. Take proactive steps for heart health today.
(By Brajesh Kunwar)
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हैदराबाद- विश्व हृदय दिवस पर डॉक्टरों का कहना है कि 50 साल से कम उम्र के करीब 75 फीसदी आबादी को दिल का दौरा पड़ने का खतरा है, ऐसे में दिल की जटिलताएं एक बड़ी बीमारी है, जिसे नजरअंदाज नहीं किया जा सकता है। देश भर में चिकित्सा पेशेवरों द्वारा किए गए अध्ययनों से संकेत मिलता है कि 40 वर्ष से कम आयु के कम से कम 25 प्रतिशत भारतीयों को दिल का दौरा पड़ने या दिल से संबंधित किसी अन्य गंभीर जटिलता से पीड़ित होने का खतरा है; और यह जोखिम 40 से 50 वर्ष की आयु के बीच 50 प्रतिशत आबादी तक बढ़ सकता है।
डॉक्टरों का मनाना है कि भारतीय युवाओं और मध्यम आयु वर्ग की आबादी के बीच स्वस्थ भोजन और सक्रिय जीवन को प्रोत्साहित करना चाहिए। यह सुनिश्चित करने के लिए कदम उठाए जाने चाहिए कि अपेक्षाकृत युवा आबादी में दिल के दौरे के मामलों में वृद्धि को तत्काल नियंत्रित किया जाए। तनाव के स्तर में वृद्धि और अनुचित जीवनशैली दिल से संबंधित बीमारियों के बढ़ने के दो प्रमुख कारण हैं।
चीफ इंटरवेंशनल कार्डियोलॉजिस्ट,ग्लेनीगल्स ग्लोबल हॉस्पिटल के एम साई सुधाकर ने कहा,कई सामाजिक मानकों पर भारत की रेटिंग खराब है, और यह हर गुजरते साल के साथ अधिक से अधिक लोगों को तनावपूर्ण स्थितियों में और अधिक गहराई तक धकेलने का एक प्रमुख कारण है। व्यक्तिगत मुद्दों के साथ ये सामाजिक समस्याएं मानसिक तनाव से पीड़ित लोगों के लिए प्रमुख कारण हैं। उनके दिल पर सीधा प्रभाव पड़ता है। जबकि अधिक पुरुषों को इस समस्या का शिकार माना जाता है।
सीनियर इंटरवेंशनल कार्डियोलॉजिस्ट, एसएलजी हॉस्पिटल्स के वी.हरिराम ने बताया कि भारतीय ट्रांस फैट के अभ्यस्त उपभोक्ता हैं, और यह खराब जीवनशैली, अनियमित कामकाजी समय, शराब, धूम्रपान तंबाकू के साथ-साथ हृदय रोग का खतरा बढ़ाता है और ऐसे व्यक्ति अत्यधिक कमजोर होते है।
अचानक दिल के दौरे के मामलों की संख्या में काफी वृद्धि हुई है। जो हार्मोनल असंतुलन के कारण हो सकता है। मधुमेह, उच्च रक्तचाप और हृदय रोग वाले लोग इसकी चपेट में आ सकते हैं। यह महत्वपूर्ण है कि लोग संभावित हृदय समस्या के किसी भी प्रारंभिक चेतावनी संकेतों को अनदेखा न करें और समय पर चिकित्सा की सलाह ले।
राजीव गर्ग, सीनियर कंसल्टेंट इंटरवेंशनल कार्डियोलॉजिस्ट, अवेयर ग्लेनीगल्स ग्लोबल हॉस्पिटल का मानना है कि कुछ सरल लेकिन अत्यधिक प्रभावी कदम संभवत: युवा भारतीयों में दिल के दौरे के जोखिम को कम कर सकते हैं। भोजन की आदतों में नियमित रूप और संयम सबसे सरल लेकिन शक्तिशाली आदतें हैं, जिन्हें लोग अपने दिल के जोखिम को कम करने के लिए कर सकते हैं। प्रत्येक व्यक्ति का शरीर अलग होता है और तनाव को कम करने की एक अलग क्षमता होती है लेकिन उचित जीवन शैली को बनाए रखना और शारीरिक रूप से सक्रिय रहना है। इस जोखिम को कम करने के लिए सबसे अच्छा हो सकता है।
डॉक्टर ने सलाह दी हैं कि लोगों को शुरूआती चेतावनी के संकेतों जैसे सांस फूलना, सीने में दर्द, अत्यधिक पसीना, चक्कर आना आदि को नजरअंदाज नहीं करना चाहिए और समय पर चिकित्सा शुरू कर देना चाहिए। यह भी महत्वपूर्ण है कि मोटे व्यक्ति और पहले से मौजूद स्वास्थ्य जटिलताओं वाले लोग धूम्रपान छोड़ दें और शराब का सेवन बंद कर दें (यदि उनमें ये दोनों आदतें हैं)। यह भी कहा कि 30 वर्ष से कम आयु के युवा, जिनका हृदय रोगों का पारिवारिक चलता आ रहा है,उनको नियमित रूप से चिकित्सा जांच करवाना चाहिए हैं।
यह भी पढ़े► मधुमेह वाले कुछ लोगों के लिए कोविड क्यों अधिक घातक?
Our heart is the key organ in the circulatory system pumping oxygenated blood to various organs. People mostly ignore or are not aware of the symptoms of an approaching heart attack or cardiac ailment. With an increasing prevalence of a sedentary lifestyle, monitoring heart health becomes even more essential. Hence, one should be aware of the newly observed symptoms and complications that signal towards an unhealthy heart.
Chest Pain is Just One of The Many Overlooked Signs
Chest pain is one of the most common signs of an approaching cardiac ailment. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, burning, tightness, or pain in the centre of the chest should be reported to the doctor. Many times these symptoms are confused with gastritis and heartburn.
Snoring and interrupted sleeping patterns
Snoring and sleep-related problems like insomnia and sleep apnea, a disorder where breathing get disrupted while you sleep, have a direct link with heart diseases and other cardiovascular ailments.
Shortness of Breath
Unexplained shortness of breath while doing small amounts of physical activity, at rest or while sleeping (that can wake you up) may indicate an underlying cardiac ailment. Women are more likely to suffer/report shortness of breath when dealing with heart troubles.
Waking up tired, restless and noting higher blood pressure levels in the morning, signals towards an unhealthy heart. Though, one should get a clinical assessment done for ensuring a clear diagnosis.
Sweeting more than usual or without any physical activity, especially if one is not exercising or being active can be an early warning sign of an approaching heart-related ailment. If someone is sitting and suddenly starts sweating profusely, it could be a sign of an oncoming heart attack.
An irregular heartbeat or more formally known as "arrhythmias", is a condition where the heart doesn't pump blood at its normal rhythm. Anyone who is relatively healthy and still has an irregular heartbeat, also indicate a chronic heart condition.
Pain in the chest and upper arm area is what most people typically associate with heart problems. However, pain in the neck or jaw is a potential point of angina pain or discomfort when the heart lacks oxygen-rich blood. Women are more likely to exhibit these symptoms than men, but if the symptoms persist it is advisable to consult a doctor.
A persistent cough is not always a sign of a heart problem, as it's a common symptom of various other common illnesses like cold, flu, and bronchitis. But a never-ending cough can be a sign of fluid building up in the lungs, which signals congestive heart failure.
When the heart isn't able to pump efficiently, blood can back up into the veins that take blood through the lungs. When there is excessive pressure in these blood vessels, fluid is pushed into the air spaces (alveoli) in the lungs. Hence, an unending cough can be caused by the irritation and fluid in the lungs, which is similar to what can cause shortness of breath.
With the current lifestyle patterns, it is very important to monitor your heart health. There can be various hidden symptoms contributing towards an unhealthy heart, hence a timely diagnosis and an active lifestyle should be given attention to. The above-mentioned symptoms can be a few of many symptoms denoting an approaching heart ailment, as a reason being aware towards your own health and consulting for timely clinical interventions become essentially important.
Read More► Why Young Indians More Vulnerable to Heart Attack?
Until a few years ago heart diseases were common among older people in India. However, in recent years, heart ailments have become more common among the younger population in India. Heart diseases are killing approximately 17 million people in the world, and in India, there million people die each year due to cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) which include heart attack and stroke.
Therefore, it is important to understand what causes heart attacks in younger Indians. Following are a few reasons that cause a heart attack in Indians:
Over Exercising: A recent study that too much exercise may be bad for the heart. While inactivity is also linked to increase in heart diseases by giving rise to obesity and other chronic diseases, the study that was conducted displayed that the people who engage in physical activity that exceeds a recommended amount for them are more at risk of having a heart attack.
Dietary Supplements: There has been no research that shows a clear benefit of supplements. However, it has been said that consuming too many supplements can be harmful. Excessive amounts of calcium and vitamin D are said to be linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Although there are studies that are ongoing around this, there has been little evidence that any amount of vitamin D supplement will protect the heart.
Stress and Heart Attack: In today’s fast-paced lives an individual faces a lot of stress due to their personal and professional relationships. Professionally, a lot of work takes place on a desk and the working hours are long. Therefore, this leads to young professionals having less sleep and high stress, which increases their risk of having heart diseases.
Hypertension: With our current dynamic lifestyles, food habits tend to change leading to increased salt consumption. Furthermore, there is increase in the amount of stress and our lifestyles are sedentary. All the factors together have led to an increase in hypertension among younger people. People with high blood pressure are likely to develop coronary diseases because high BP adds pressure on the artery walls and over time this can destroy the arteries.
Unhealthy Eating Habits: A lot of young professionals and students often go to food joints that serve unhealthy food items such as junk food. These foods have a high amount of cholesterol and trans fat which may lead to heart disease among people
Hence, to reduce the number of individuals with heart attacks, drastic steps need to be taken collectively and as individuals. Organisations and healthcare professionals need to spread awareness around the growing burden of heart attacks among younger Indians and individuals need to adapt to a more holistic and healthy approach to life. Even at the slightest indication of heart disease, one must reach out to their primary care consultant to stay safe and healthy.
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