Mindfulness-based stress reduction helps lower blood pressure, study reports

October 15, 2013

Blood pressure is effectively lowered by mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for patients with borderline high blood pressure or "prehypertension." This finding is reported in the October issue of Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, the official journal of the American Psychosomatic Society.

"Our results provide evidence that MBSR, when added to lifestyle modification advice, may be an appropriate complementary treatment for BP in the prehypertensive range," writes Joel W. Hughes, PhD, of Kent State (Ohio) University and colleagues.

Mindfulness Practice Leads to Drop in Blood Pressure

The study included 56 women and men diagnosed with prehypertension— that was higher than desirable, but not yet so high that would be prescribed. Prehypertension receives increasing attention from doctors because it is associated with a wide range of heart disease and other . About 30% of Americans have prehypertension and may be prescribed medications for this condition.

One group of patients was assigned to a program of MBSR: 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. This "active control" treatment group was not expected to have lasting effects on blood pressure. 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 (the first, higher number) decreased by an average of nearly 5 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), compared to less than 1 mm Hg with in the control group who did not receive the mindfulness intervention.

Diastolic blood pressure (the second, lower number) 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.

Mindfulness-based interventions Could 'Prevent or Delay' Need for Antihypertensive Drugs Ambulatory monitoring is an increasingly used alternative to clinic-based blood pressure measurements. However, 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring showed no significant difference in blood pressure with the mindfulness-based intervention.

"Mindfulness-based stress reduction is an increasingly popular practice that has been purported to alleviate stress, treat depression and anxiety, and treat certain health conditions," according to Dr Hughes and coauthors. It has been suggested that MBSR and other types of meditation may be useful in lowering blood pressure. Previous studies have reported small but significant reductions in blood pressure with Transcendental Meditation; the new study is the first to specifically evaluate the blood pressure effects of mindfulness-based intervention in patients with prehypertension.

Although the blood pressure reductions associated with mindfulness-based interventions are modest, they are similar to many drug interventions and potentially large enough to lead to reductions in the risk of heart attack or stroke. Further studies are needed to see if the blood pressure-lowering effects are sustained over time.

The researchers argue that mindfulness-based interventions may provide a useful alternative to help "prevent or delay" the need for antihypertensive medications in patients with borderline high blood pressure.

Explore further: Lower blood pressure targets safe in reducing risk of recurrent stroke

Related Stories

Lower blood pressure targets safe in reducing risk of recurrent stroke

February 11, 2013
Stroke patients who lowered their systolic blood pressure below 130 mm Hg were significantly less likely to have a recurrent stroke caused by a brain bleed compared with those who didn't lower their pressure that far, according ...

Blood pressure medicines reduce stroke risk in people with prehypertension

December 8, 2011
People with prehypertension had a lower risk of stroke when they took blood pressure-lowering medicines, according to research reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Breast cancer survivors benefit from practicing Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction

December 29, 2011
Women recently diagnosed with breast cancer have higher survival rates than those diagnosed in previous decades, according to the American Cancer Society. However, survivors continue to face health challenges after their ...

Alternative therapies may help lower blood pressure, AHA scientific statement report says

April 22, 2013
Alternative therapies such as aerobic exercise, resistance or strength training, and isometric hand grip exercises may help reduce your blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.

Home telemonitoring by pharmacists helps control patients' blood pressure

May 10, 2012
Patients receiving telemonitoring along with high blood pressure management support from a pharmacist were more likely to lower their blood pressure than those not receiving extra support, according to research presented ...

Mindfulness training beneficial for clinicians, patients

September 12, 2013
(HealthDay)—Mindfulness training is associated with improvements in physician burnout; and, clinicians who rate themselves as more mindful engage in more patient-centered communication, according to two studies published ...

Recommended for you

Depression changes structure of the brain, study suggests

July 21, 2017
Changes in the brain's structure that could be the result of depression have been identified in a major scanning study.

Many kinds of happiness promote better health, study finds

July 21, 2017
A new study links the capacity to feel a variety of upbeat emotions to better health.

Study finds gene variant increases risk for depression

July 20, 2017
A University of Central Florida study has found that a gene variant, thought to be carried by nearly 25 percent of the population, increases the odds of developing depression.

Study examines effects of stopping psychiatric medication

July 20, 2017
Despite numerous obstacles and severe withdrawal effects, long-term users of psychiatric drugs can stop taking them if they choose, and mental health care professionals could be more helpful to such individuals, according ...

In making decisions, are you an ant or a grasshopper?

July 20, 2017
In one of Aesop's famous fables, we are introduced to the grasshopper and the ant, whose decisions about how to spend their time affect their lives and future. The jovial grasshopper has a blast all summer singing and playing, ...

Perceiving oneself as less physically active than peers is linked to a shorter lifespan

July 20, 2017
Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about equally active as other people your age?

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Kevin Owen
not rated yet Oct 16, 2013
How many conditions are Psychosomatic is a question that should be asked.

Cases Handled With Psychosomatic Healing
"The human body was found to be extremely capable of repairing itself when the stored memories of pain were cancelled. Further it was discovered that so long as the stored pain remained, the doctoring of what are called psychosomatic ills, such as arthritis, could not result in anything permanent."
http://www.psycho...led.html

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.