- Yoga is a part of traditional Indian culture, which is economical, easy to practice and can be adapted by masses.
- Hatha yoga is a combination of asanas-stretches, pranayama-beathing and meditation.
- People with prehypertension should engage in hatha yoga for one hour daily.
Yoga helps to reduce blood pressure in patients with prehypertension.
The lateral pressure exerted by blood on the walls of the arteries in known as blood pressure. The normal blood pressure reading is a systolic blood pressure of 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and a diastolic blood pressure of 80 mm of Hg.
‘Cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, by adopting a healthy lifestyle which includes yoga, a good quality diet, and not smoking.’
The pressure that develops when the heart is pumping blood into the arteries is systolic blood pressure and the pressure that develops when heart refills with blood between beats is diastolic blood pressure.
A person is said to be in prehypertensive state when systolic blood pressure ranges from 120-139 mm Hg and diastolic pressure ranges from 80-89 mm Hg. Prehypertension increases the risk for hypertension, stroke and heart diseases.
The benefits of yoga for prehypertension will be presented at the 68th Annual Conference of the Cardiological Society of India (CSI).
The congress is being held in Kochi, India, from 8th to 11th December. Experts from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) will present a special program.
"Patients with prehypertension (slightly elevated blood pressure) are likely to develop hypertension (high blood pressure) unless they improve their lifestyle," said lead author Dr Ashutosh Angrish, a cardiologist at Sir Gangaram Hospital in Delhi, India. "Both prehypertension and high blood pressure increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure."
Researchers recruited 60 patients with prehypertension who were otherwise healthy, to investigate the impact of hatha yoga on blood pressure.
Patients were divided into two groups of 30 each to assess the effect of yoga and conventional lifestyle changes.
One group was advised three months of yoga plus conventional lifestyle changes and the other group participants incorporated conventional lifestyle changes alone (control group).
Yoga included stretching exercises (asanas), breath control (pranayama) and meditation. It was taught by a yoga instructor for one month and then patients subsequently followed it at home. Yoga practice was for one hour every day.
Conventional lifestyle changes consisted of moderate aerobic exercise, diet, and smoking cessation.
The average age of participants in the yoga group was 56 years in the control group was 52 years. In the yoga group there were 16 women and 14 men, while in the control group there were 17 women and 13 men.
The 24 hour mean blood pressure at baseline was 130/80 mm Hg in the yoga group and 127/80 mm Hg in the control group.
Both the 24 hour diastolic blood pressure and night diastolic pressure significantly decreased in the yoga group by 4.5 mm Hg and 24 hour mean arterial pressure significantly decreased by around 4.9 mm Hg.
No significant change in blood pressure were observed in the control group.
Dr Angrish said: "Although the reduction in blood pressure was modest, it could be clinically very meaningful because even a 2 mmHg decrease in diastolic BP has the potential to decrease the risk of coronary heart disease by 6% and the risk of stroke and transient ischaemic attack by 15%."
Dr Angrish speculates that yoga may decrease the sympathetic drive, reset the baroreceptors, cause neurohumoral effects and thus help in lowering blood pressure.
Dr Shirish Hiremath, CSI President Elect and Chairman of the CSI 2016 Scientific Committee, said "Yoga is a part of traditional Indian culture, and has shown clear benefit in cases of prehypertension. Easy to practice and can be adapted by masses and is also very economical, yoga can go a long way in improving the overall health of the country, as hypertension is affecting a large number of young Indians. Yoga can turn out to be just the correct answer for people at risk."
The research concludes that patients with prehypertension should be advised to practice hatha yoga (a combination of asanas, pranayam and meditation) for one hour daily. This helps prevent the development of hypertension and in addition give a sense of well-being.
- Prehypertension:Does it really matter? - (http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/prehypertension-does-it-really-matter)