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Transcendental meditation may lower blood pressure

Transcendental Meditation (TM) techniques lower blood pressure, and may be considered in clinical practice for the prevention and treatment of hypertension, according to a recent report1 from the American Heart Association (AHA).

After considering meta-analyses and the latest clinical trials on different types of meditation, the report stated that while TM is recommended to lower blood pressure, there is not enough scientific evidence to recommend other meditation or relaxation techniques.

The authors of the report assessed three categories of alternative approaches: behavioural therapies such as meditation, non-invasive procedures or devices, and exercise-based regimens. The report did not review diets or dietary supplements.

Meta-analyses referenced in the report found that TM practice lowers blood pressure on average 5 mmHg systolic and 3 mmHg diastolic. Although this is by some accounts modest, Dr Schneider pointed out that for millions of people with high blood pressure, this reduction may help to bring them into a more normal range or prevent the need for hypertension medication with attendant side effects and costs. Clinical trials have shown that lower blood pressure through TM practice is associated with significantly lower rates of death, heart attack, and stroke.

The report also recognised that TM is generally considered safe and without harmful side effects. As an additional advantage, the statement noted that many of the reviewed alternative therapies, such as meditation, may provide a range of health or psychological benefits beyond blood pressure lowering or cardiovascular risk reduction.

The report concluded that, “It is the consensus of the writing group that it is reasonable for all individuals with blood pressure levels >120/80 mm Hg to consider trials of alternative approaches as adjuvant methods to help lower blood pressure when clinically appropriate.”

“We are gratified that our research demonstrating the efficacy of TM on blood pressure is being recognised and hope that this consensus will result in its wider use in clinical practice,” said Professor C. Noel Bairey Merz, (Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA), principal investigator for a National Institutes of Health sponsored clinical trial on TM and cardiovascular health.

“This is an important breakthrough in the evolution of medical practice, since it is the first time that the TM technique has been recognised and recommended for consideration by a national medical organisation that provides professional practice guidelines to physicians, health care payers, and policymakers,” said Dr Robert Schneider, director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention. Dr Schneider has been the principal investigator for several research studies on the TM technique and cardiovascular disease. “This type of guideline statement has been what health insurance companies have been requesting for many years,” he added.

References

1. Brook RD, Appel LJ, Rubenfire M, et al. Beyond medications and diet: alternative approaches to lowering blood pressure: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Hypertension 2013;61. http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/HYP.0b013e318293645f

Published on: May 22, 2013

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