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

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.

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Fig. 1

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Acknowledgments

Funding for this study was provided by NIH/NIA grant 1RC2AG036666.

Ethical Standards

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all participants for being included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

Eric Loucks, Willoughby Britton, Chanelle Howe, Charles Eaton and Stephen Buka declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Eric B. Loucks.

Appendix

Appendix

Fig. 2
figure2

Prevalence ratios (95 % confidence intervals) of good cardiovascular health according to mindfulness tertile, adjusted for age, sex, and race/ethnicity. Point estimates represent prevalence ratios of having ≥4 ideal cardiovascular health components per Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) tertile. Tertiles 1 and 3 represent the lowest and highest MAAS tertile, respectively. Sample sizes for tertiles 1, 2, and 3 are 128, 123, and 131, respectively

Fig. 3
figure3

Prevalence ratios (95 % confidence intervals) of good cardiovascular health according to mindfulness quartile, adjusted for age, sex, and race/ethnicity. Point estimates represent prevalence ratios of having ≥4 ideal cardiovascular health components per Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) quartile. Quartiles 1 and 4 represent the lowest and highest MAAS quartile, respectively. Sample sizes for quartiles 1, 2, 3, and 4 are 94, 91, 103, and 94, respectively

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Loucks, E.B., Britton, W.B., Howe, C.J. et al. Positive Associations of Dispositional Mindfulness with Cardiovascular Health: the New England Family Study. Int.J. Behav. Med. 22, 540–550 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12529-014-9448-9

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Epidemiology
  • Prevention