Article

International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 540-550

First online:

Positive Associations of Dispositional Mindfulness with Cardiovascular Health: the New England Family Study

  • Eric B. LoucksAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Brown University School of Public Health Email author 
  • , Willoughby B. BrittonAffiliated withDepartment of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Brown University School of Public HealthDepartment of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School
  • , Chanelle J. HoweAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Brown University School of Public Health
  • , Charles B. EatonAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Brown University School of Public HealthDepartment of Family Medicine, Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School
  • , Stephen L. BukaAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Brown University School of Public Health

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Abstract

Background

Mindfulness (the ability to attend nonjudgmentally to one’s own physical and mental processes) is receiving substantial interest as a potential determinant of health. However, little is known whether mindfulness is associated with cardiovascular health.

Purpose

The aim of this study is to evaluate whether dispositional mindfulness is associated with cardiovascular health.

Method

Study participants (n = 382) were from the New England Family Study, born in Providence, RI, USA, with mean age 47 years. Dispositional mindfulness was assessed using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS). Cardiovascular health was assessed based on American Heart Association criteria. Cross-sectional multivariable-adjusted log binomial regression analyses were performed.

Results

Analyses demonstrated that those with high vs. low MAAS had prevalence ratio (PR) for good cardiovascular health of 1.83 (95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.07, 3.13), adjusted for age, gender, and race/ethnicity. There were significant associations of high vs. low mindfulness with nonsmoking (PR = 1.37, 95 % CI 1.06, 1.76), body mass index <25 kg/m2 (PR = 2.17, 95 % CI 1.16, 4.07), fasting glucose <100 mg/dL (PR = 1.47, 95 % CI 1.06, 2.04), and high physical activity (PR = 1.56, 95 % CI 1.04, 2.35), but not blood pressure, total cholesterol, or fruit/vegetable consumption. Exploratory mediation analyses suggested that sense of control and depressive symptomatology may be mediators.

Conclusion

This study demonstrated preliminary cross-sectional evidence that dispositional mindfulness is positively associated with cardiovascular health, with the associations particularly driven by smoking, body mass index, fasting glucose, and physical activity. If in future research mindfulness-based practices are found to consistently improve cardiovascular disease risk factors, such interventions may have potential to strengthen effects of cardiovascular health promotion programs.

Keywords

Mindfulness Cardiovascular health Epidemiology Prevention