Posted on Nov 06, 2013, 6 a.m.
Blood pressure is effectively lowered by mindfulness-based stress reduction, a technique combining meditation and yoga, in people with borderline high blood pressure.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is an increasingly popular practice demonstrated to alleviate stress and treat certain health conditions. Joel W. Hughes, from Kent State University (Ohio, USA), and colleagues enrolled 56 women and men diagnosed with prehypertension -- blood pressure that is higher than desirable, but not yet so high that antihypertensive drugs would be prescribed. One group of patients was assigned to a program of MBSR, which incorporated meditation and yoga: eight group sessions of 2½ hours per week. Led by an experienced instructor, the sessions included three main types of mindfulness skills: body scan exercises, sitting meditation, and yoga exercises. Patients were also encouraged to perform mindfulness exercises at home. The other "comparison" group received lifestyle advice plus a muscle-relaxation activity. Blood pressure measurements were compared between groups to determine whether the mindfulness-based intervention reduced blood pressure in this group of people at risk of cardiovascular problems. Patients in the mindfulness-based intervention group had significant reductions in clinic-based blood pressure measurements. Systolic blood pressure decreased by an average of nearly 5 mm Hg, compared to less than 1 mm Hg in the control group . Diastolic blood pressure was also lower in the mindfulness-based intervention group: a reduction of nearly 2 mm Hg, compared to an increase of 1 mm Hg in the control group.
Joel W. Hughes, David M. Fresco, Rodney Myerscough, Manfred H. M. van Dulmen, Linda E. Carlson, Richard Josephson. “Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Prehypertension.” Psychosom Med, October 2013; 75:721-728.