Can Relaxation Therapy Help People with Hypertension?

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New study suggests yoga, meditation for lowering blood pressure

With about 100 million Americans affected by high blood pressure, the idea that reduction of risk of heart attack can be achieved without medication is a welcome idea for a huge segment of our populations. Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston may have offered hope to the masses.

A new study led by researchers at BIDMC and Massachusetts General Hospital identified genes associated with the response to relaxation techniques, shedding lights on how the body reacts to lower blood pressure. Findings were recently published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

“Traditionally, hypertension is treated with pharmacologic therapy, but not all patients respond to drug therapy, and many experience treatment-limiting side effects,” said co-senior author Randall Zusman, MD, Director of the Division of Hypertension at MGH. “In these patients, alternative strategies are invaluable. In this study, we found that the relaxation response can successfully help reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients who are not taking medication.”

13 of the 24 participants who completed the eight-week intervention experienced a clinically relevant drop in blood pressure–specific reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings that moved participants below 140/90 mm Hg, the clinical definition of stage 1 hypertension.

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Rob Senior
Rob Senior

Rob has 15 years of experience writing and editing for healthcare. He previously worked for ADVANCE from 2002 to 2012.

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