Mindfulness training helps lower BP in those with prehypertension

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a technique collaborating meditation and yoga, can prove effective in lowering blood pressure, researchers have found.

According to the findings of a new study, mindfulness training designed to boost attention and awareness, can help maintain blood pressure levels, delaying the need for drug intervention.

The technique can prove significantly helpful in patients with borderline high blood pressure or prehypertension, researchers marked.

The study
For the purpose of the study, researchers roped in 56 adults who were diagnosed with prehypertension but were not yet prescribed drugs. The average age of the participants was 50.3 years.

The participants were randomly divided into two groups. While the first group was assigned to an MBSR program, the other was given lifestyle advice and a muscle-relaxation activity.

Members of the MBSR group attended sessions of 2.5 hours for 8 weeks. The MBSR sessions included three main types of mindfulness skills – body scan exercises, sitting meditation, and yoga exercises.

Blood pressure readings culled at start and end of the study were compared.

Researchers found that prehypertension patients in the MBSR group had lower readings for both systolic and diastolic blood pressure as compared to readings of the patients in the lifestyle advice group.

On average, the systolic pressure reading decreased by 5 mm Hg in the MBSR group. However it dropped only by 0.7-mm Hg in the control group.

On the other hand, the diastolic blood pressure readings saw a drop of 1.9-mm Hg in the MBSR group and an increase of 1.2-mm Hg in the control group, the researchers revealed.

“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,” study’s lead researcher, Joel W. Hughes, said.

“Our results provide evidence that MBSR, when added to lifestyle modification advice, may be an appropriate complementary treatment for blood pressure in the prehypertensive range,” Hughes added.

The findings of the study are reported in the current issue of the Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, the official journal of the American Psychosomatic Society.