Integrative Health Blog

Mindfulness and Cardiovascular Disease

Posted by Dr. Charles Gant on Wed, Sep 23, 2020

heart disease_holistic_mindfulness

Mindfulness has been defined[1] as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally,” that is “in the service of self-understanding and wisdom.”

To this, since mindfulness is also a clinical tool[2] that has been extensively studied and promoted in peer-reviewed scientific publications,[3] I would add that mindfulness is also a clinical and therapeutic tool for chronic health issues such as cardiovascular disease. 

Mindfulness Improves Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease

Mindfulness has been shown to improve lipid profiles, lower blood pressure, lessen insulin resistance, reduce the cravings and use of tobacco and reduce stress associated with anxiety and depression, a major factor in heart disease. In other words, five major risk factors that cause the number one killer of human beings – cardiovascular disease – hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, anxiety/depression, and smoking, may be significantly improved. One might ask, why isn’t mindfulness a part of all family practice and cardiology centers?

Mindfulness is a separate faculty of consciousness that is still new to the western mindset. Mindfulness is NOT cognitive (thinking), emotional, sensory (5 senses) or behavioral, all of which are familiar faculties that are governed by various brain regions that drive the biological imperative of all life, survival. Mindfulness is not about survival. Mindfulness “transcends,” suspends or “lets go” of the stressful need to survive, and thus lowers sympathetic fight/flight stress. Mindfulness is paradoxical when it comes to survival. When we give ourselves a respite from the constant barrage of thoughts focused on survival, which is killing us, we move into rest/digest or the parasympathetic state which improves our chances of survival. The state of autonomic stress which prepares us to run or fight, and raises blood sugars and lipids to feed muscles the food it needs for physical activity, and raises blood pressure to drive blood to our muscles, all lessens or ceases  with the regular practice of mindfulness. 

Creating a Place of Refuge Within

Recent neuroimagery, cognitive science and neurophysiological studies suggest that approximately 1/6th of our brain, our most highly evolved part, the prefrontal cortex, is the critical region of our brain that is mostly responsible for conferring this separate faculty of mindfulness.[4] Practicing mindfulness simply develops this brain region and distances us from the constant barrage of thoughts which are driving us to exist in fight/flight. Mindfulness creates a refuge from the constant worry and anxiety of fight/flight, autonomic stress.

Join a Mindfulness Session

I invite everyone to join a free mindfulness group every Sunday night, at 7 PM, by simply calling 712-770-4340 and when prompted enter the code 566853# (pound). No experience necessary- just a desire to let go and find calm.

Date: Every Sunday night

Time: 7:00- 8:00 PM, EST.

Call 712-770-4340, access code 566853#

Facilitator: Dr. Gant


Dr. Gant functional medicine doctor Wash DCCharles Gant MD, PhD,  is a physician, author and teacher and has practiced Integrative and Functional Medicine for over three decades. He specializes in getting to the root cause of health issues to support healing at the molecular level.  Areas of interest include ADHD, chronic diseases, metabolic, hormonal and immune disorders, infectious disease (Lyme and co-infections), genetic testing and more. He is an expert in interpretation of functional medicine testing to diagnose precisely what is deficient in each patient, and then replenish those missing, essential items. 


[1] Jon Kabat Zinn

[2] Levine GN et. al (2017) Meditation and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction; A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association, Volume 6, Issue 10.

[3] Ray, I. B., Menezes, A. R., Malur, P., Hiltbold, A. E., Reilly, J. P., & Lavie, C. J. (2014). Meditation and coronary heart disease: a review of the current clinical evidence. The Ochsner journal, 14(4), 696–703.

[4] Gant, C (2020) Awaken Your Godly Brain; The Undeniable Link Between Brain Chemistry and Function, and Your Life, Liberty Pursuit of Sustainable Happiness, Liberty Hill Publishing.

Topics: heart disease, mind-body