Use This Technique to Keep Your Blood Pressure in Line

Monday Jan 27 | BY |
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Meditation and Blood Pressure

Studies indicate that meditation may help keep blood pressure levels in the normal range.

Typical lifestyle modifications for high blood pressure include reduced sodium, increased exercise, and a healthier diet that emphasizes fruits and vegetables. Several studies have indicated that meditation may also help, including recent research out of Kent State University that shows mindfulness-based stress reduction was just as effective as some medications.

Here’s more on what the science has found, and how you may take advantage of it to keep your blood pressure where it needs to be as you age.

Recent Study Findings

For the study, researchers recruited 56 men and women with an average age of 50 years. All had blood pressure readings in the “prehypertension” range, which means that they were higher than optimal, but not so high as to require treatment with blood pressure medications. (Normal is 120 over 80. These participants ranged from 120-139 over 80-89.) Prehypertension is associated with heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.

The researchers then assigned one group to 8 weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and the other control group to progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) training. The MBSR sessions included sitting meditation, yoga exercises, and body scan exercises. Treatment sessions lasted about 2.5 hours each week, but participants were encouraged to perform the mindfulness exercises at home as well.

After the 8-week period, researchers then measured the blood pressure levels once again. Results showed:

  • Participants in the mindfulness-based group had significant reductions in blood pressure measurements.
  • Systolic pressure (the first number) decreased by an average of 5 mm Hg, compared to less than 1 mm HG for the control group.
  • Diastolic pressure (the second number) decreased by nearly 2 mm Hg in the mindfulness-based group, compared to 1 mm Hg in the control group.
  • The researchers noted that these decreases were similar to those seen in many drug interventions, and potentially large enough to reduce risk of heart attack and stroke. They also stated that the mindfulness-based stress reduction exercises may help prevent or delay the need for high blood pressure medications.

Other Studies Show Similar Results

This isn’t the first study to suggest that meditation can have an effect on blood pressure. In 2008, researchers from the University of Kentucky performed a meta-analysis on transcendental meditation as a primary intervention for patients with high blood pressure. Patients who practiced regularly lowered their systolic blood pressure by 4.7 mm and their diastolic pressure by 3.2 mm. Lead author Dr. James W. Anderson stated that such reductions would be expected to reduce risk of heart disease without the side effects of drugs.

A 2009 study published in the American Journal of Hypertension and conducted at the American University in Washington followed nearly 300 college students, half of whom practiced transcendental meditation 20 minutes once or twice a day and half who did not. After three months, a subgroup in the meditation group who were at an increased risk for hypertension had an average reduction of 6.3 mm systolic and 4 mm in diastolic pressure. The researchers associated this reduction with a 52 percent reduced risk in developing hypertension in the future.

Getting Started

Considering that an estimated one in three Americans have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, and that another 30 percent have pre-hypertension (higher than 120/80 but lower than 140/90), many are looking for non-drug options. If you are in either of these groups, regular meditation practice may be helpful.

Most studies have looked at a certain type of meditation called “transcendental meditation.” This is a specific technique that involves the following:

  • Sitting comfortably with the eyes closed
  • Repeating a mantra in the mind without making a sound
  • Doing so for about 20 minutes, two times a day
  • Allowing thoughts to come and go, bringing the mind back to the mantra

To get started, you may want to seek out an instructor in your area, or invest in some meditation DVDs or CDs. The main thing is to carve out a time every day when you can sit undisturbed in a quiet area. You don’t have to sit cross-legged if that’s uncomfortable—using a chair is fine as long as you sit up straight and don’t allow yourself to doze off.

You can use a mantra like “om”, or simply choose a regular word like “love” or “light” to focus on. Some people enjoy lighting a candle and focusing on the flame. It can provide the perfect point to bring your mind back to when it starts drifting.

Do you practice meditation? Have you noticed health benefits? Please share with our readers.

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Sources
Joel W. Hughes, et al., “Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Prehypertension,” Psychosomatic Medicine, October 2013, 75(8):721-728, http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/content/75/8/721.abstract.

University of Kentucky (2008, March 15). Meditation Can Lower Blood Pressure, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 10, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2008/03/080314130430.htm.

Sarah Baldauf, “Try Meditation to Lower Your Blood Pressure and Protect Your Heart,” US News and World Report, November 18, 2009, http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/articles/2009/11/18/try-meditation-to-lower-your-blood-pressure-and-protect-your-heart.

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho. www.colleenmstory.com

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

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  1. Margaret says:

    I never exercise to be exercising. However, we moved our pantry to the basement. Need something from the pantry we get exercise going up and down the stairs.

    Now we get more exercise and have more room in our regular living quarters. And we have never been overweight because we get exercise pushing away from the table before we are real full. Satisfied is one thing, Real full is another and then these are a couple of friends who think that dinner time means to pack the stomach to the gills with food.

    Plus we drink tea that we get from strandtea.com and get the rooibos red tea and the rooibos green tea which have been studied and analyzed. 6 oz. red tea gives us vit. c, calcium, magnesium, potassium, etc. It has been estimated that the rooibos green probably has 2 to 20 times the antioxidants that red rooibos has. We add two big teaspoons of wholesome organic whole cane sugar to each 6 oz. that we consume. I need to have some sugar every day or dates(raw), or maple syrup or blackstrap molasses — sugar does not make us fat.

    We do know that the green gives a boost in energy and should be consumed in the morning. 6 oz. tea before exercise for those who think they need it, would hydrate the body as well as give a boost in energy.

    Another beverage that we like is raw unpasteurized dandelion leek miso as a good what I call tonic beverage, 6 oz. water and 1 teaspoon miso…… in the morning as it does give a pick up. Maybe this too would be good to have before some exercise…….. hydrate the body, plus give it some extremely good nutrition, then not be fatigued.

    Just some things for folks to think about.

  2. Helaine says:

    I’m not sure where you’re getting your information, but great topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding
    more. Thanks for great info I was looking for this information for my mission.

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