Health Tip – Jan. 17 – Mindfulness to Head Off High Blood Pressure
Dee Dee – Health Tip
About 30 percent of Americans have pre-hypertension – their blood pressure is higher than normal, but not high enough to require drug treatment. This condition can progress to high blood pressure, but new research now suggests that mindfulness-based stress reduction can help lower pre-hypertensive blood pressure levels, and prevent or delay the need for drugs.
Researchers at Ohio’s Kent State University recruited 56 adults with pre-hypertension and assigned them to two groups. The first group underwent a program in mindfulness-based stress reduction training. Those in the other “control” group were given lifestyle advice plus a muscle-relaxation activity.
The researchers reported that after eight training sessions in mindfulness-based stress reduction, participants’ blood pressure dropped significantly. The top number (systolic blood pressure) declined an average of nearly five millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) while diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) dropped 2 mm Hg. Both measurements also declined in the control group but by only 1 mm Hg in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
The researchers noted that while the positive reductions seen in the mindfulness group were “modest” they were “potentially large enough to lead to reductions in the risk of heart attack or stroke”. Additional studies will be needed to see if the effects are long-lasting.
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