Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide and is highly comorbid with emotional disorders. Mindfulness meditation can improve health outcomes in people with CVD. Calm is the most popular smartphone meditation app, but the usage patterns among people with CVD have not been explored.
We conducted a secondary analysis of a cross-sectional survey study among N = 1512 Calm subscribers with CVD to explore user characteristics, usage patterns, and health changes, and compare the results among those with and without co-occurring anxiety or depression.
Users were primarily white (83%), female (74%), and had relatively high income (45% with > $100,000/year). Most (67%) used Calm at least 5 ×/week and started using Calm to help with sleep (69%) and stress (67%). More users with anxiety or depression, compared to CVD-only, started Calm to help with stress (71% vs. 64%) and anxiety or depression (77% vs. 37%), and used components incorporating sounds and physical movements more often (all p’s < 0.05). Most participants reported changes in sleep, stress, and physical and mental health (60–79%), though changes were more prevalent among those with anxiety or depression (p’s < 0.001). More frequent Calm use was associated with greater health changes (p’s < 0.05).
Calm users with CVD use the app regularly to help with health promotion and, particularly those with anxiety or depression, perceive health changes from their Calm use. Randomized controlled trials are needed to establish the efficacy and optimal dose of Calm use for people with CVD.