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Mindfulness and Cardiovascular Disease Risk: State of the Evidence, Plausible Mechanisms, and Theoretical Framework

Abstract

The purpose of this review is to provide (1) a synopsis on relations of mindfulness with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and major CVD risk factors, and (2) an initial consensus-based overview of mechanisms and theoretical framework by which mindfulness might influence CVD. Initial evidence, often of limited methodological quality, suggests possible impacts of mindfulness on CVD risk factors including physical activity, smoking, diet, obesity, blood pressure, and diabetes regulation. Plausible mechanisms include (1) improved attention control (e.g., ability to hold attention on experiences related to CVD risk, such as smoking, diet, physical activity, and medication adherence), (2) emotion regulation (e.g., improved stress response, self-efficacy, and skills to manage craving for cigarettes, palatable foods, and sedentary activities), and (3) self-awareness (e.g., self-referential processing and awareness of physical sensations due to CVD risk factors). Understanding mechanisms and theoretical framework should improve etiologic knowledge, providing customized mindfulness intervention targets that could enable greater mindfulness intervention efficacy.

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Acknowledgments

This publication was supported by grant number UH2AT009145 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), specifically the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NCCIH, OBSSR, or the NIH.

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Correspondence to Eric B. Loucks.

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Eric B. Loucks, Zev Schuman-Olivier, Willoughby B. Britton, David M. Fresco, Gaelle Desbordes, Judson A. Brewer, and Carl Fulwiler declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Psychological Aspects of Cardiovascular Diseases

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Loucks, E.B., Schuman-Olivier, Z., Britton, W.B. et al. Mindfulness and Cardiovascular Disease Risk: State of the Evidence, Plausible Mechanisms, and Theoretical Framework. Curr Cardiol Rep 17, 112 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11886-015-0668-7

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Etiology