Technique incorporating meditation and yoga can benefit patients with high blood pressure or 'prehypertension', reveals a new study.
The study by Joel W. Hughes, PhD, of Kent State (Ohio) University included 56 women and men diagnosed with prehypertension.
One group of patients was assigned to a program of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR): eight group sessions of 2 and a half 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.
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.
Researchers found that 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 stress reduction is an increasingly popular practice that has been purported to alleviate stress, treat depression and anxiety, and treat certain health conditions," Dr Hughes said.
The study is published in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine.