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When the Pressure’s Up—Who You Gonna Call?

by Beverly Berwald
Over 60 million Americans have high blood pressure. Adnan Qureshi, M.D. of the Minnesota Stroke Institute in Minneapolis announced at the American Stroke Association’s International Conference that people who own cats have a decreased risk of death from cardiovascular emergencies by a factor of two and a half times.

Dr. Qureshi and fellow researchers examined the records of 4,435 patients between the ages of 35 and 79 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES II). Analyses of potential risks – age, gender, ethnicity/race, systolic blood pressure, cigarette smoking, blood sugar imbalances, high cholesterol and body mass – were all taken into consideration and adjustments made before the researchers arrived at their conclusions.

If you’re not already living with a cat, you might consider adopting one from your local animal shelter. Cats don’t sweat, they’re self-cleaning and hence, low-maintenance and they don’t demand to be walked twice or three times a day. In fact, cats exercise themselves, starting each morning with yogic stretches followed by leaps to the heights of a windowsill. Observe a feline in motion – the epitome of grace and flexibility. The finest ballet dancers can take a few lessons from a flexible cat. It all comes down to the fact that felines have 231 joints, 25 more joints than humans.
Lower blood pressure helps your heart

Adopt a Cat for Your Heart’s Sake

Your mind easily can become entrained to the slow dance of the feline. It’s akin to hearing a Brahms lullabye. The development of a theme throughout the progressive movements of a concerto or a symphony tune the ear to proportion, balance, exquisite math. Genius, of necessity, reflects organization; the lesser, more chaotic energies – often exhibited by humans in their frenzied lifestyles – will defer to intellect of a higher order because it is soothing to the senses and calming to the central nervous system; one’s life energy is conserved, instead of squandered.

Increase Your Self-Esteem

According to Edgar Kenton, M.D. of Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, you can enhance the way you feel about yourself merely by hanging out with cats. Dr. Kenton who also attended the American Stroke Association International Conference told his physician colleagues: “Cats tend to help build a person’s self esteem that may be diminished by risk factors for heart disease such as obesity, lessened mobility or injury.” He further elucidated: “We know that cats are helpful in rehabilitation from injury and illnesses such as stroke.”

Take a Cue from A Cat

When a cat is curled up in your lap, it’s easy to imprint to her peaceful contentment. She is a living example of the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu’s Great Way* that underscores a paradox: Alert and aware to one’s surroundings at all times, but still within, relaxed and unhurried. Your cat is a reminder to let go of your obsessions that have you behaving like a slave, struggling to make things happen. Instead, as you contemplate the cat at rest, trust in that which is unfolding naturally rather than that which must be forced. Behavior that bullies an outcome summons tension and anxiety, a prelude to thickened arteries, high blood pressure and cardiac emergencies: the complete opposite of the graceful tempo of a cat.

You didn’t have to hear it from the doctors, you may have known it already, having experienced it firsthand with your own Dr. Purr curled up at the foot of your bed. Kudos to those discerning physicians who are keenly aware of medicine that is not poured from a bottle but rather streams from the heart. For love and all its resonant waves of calming energy is the most powerful medicine in heaven and on earth.

[*The author of this article wishes to thank Wayne Dyer for his book Change Your Thoughts—Change Your Life (Hay House 2007), an astute interpretation of Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching or Great Way.]