Thursday, December 6, 2007

Wham: Meditation Reduces High Blood Pressure

Lately I've been working with a Resperate Blood Pressure reducing device. I'll let you know when I've had some results. My initial impression is that the device is a $20 Chinese CD player masquerading as a $300 medical device, but who knows . . . it may yet improve my blood pressure readings. At this point, with only two days of testing, all it has done is wet my appetite for more information on how meditation lowers blood pressure. The slowed breathing process inspired by the device is much like a form of meditation.

Researching this further, I found that there actually is some science that shows meditation can be very helpful for high blood pressure. According to a definitive new meta-analysis of 107 published studies on stress reduction programs and high blood pressure, published in the December issue of Current Hypertension Reports, the Transcendental Meditation technique produces a statistically significant reduction in high blood pressure that is not found with other forms of stress management.

The new meta-analysis reviewed randomized, controlled trials of all stress reduction and relaxation methods in participants with high blood pressure that have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Blood pressure changes for the Transcendental Meditation technique included average reductions of 5.0 points on systolic blood pressure and 2.8 on diastolic blood pressure, which were statistically significant, according to the review. The other stress reduction programs did not show significant changes in blood pressure.

Blood pressure changes associated with Transcendental Meditation practice were consistent with other controlled studies showing reductions in cardiovascular risk factors, improved markers of heart disease, and reduced mortality rates among participants in the Transcendental Meditation program.

The new meta-analysis was conducted by researchers at the NIH-funded Institute of Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management and the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

According to Dr. James Anderson, professor of medicine at the University of Kentucky and co-author of the new meta-analysis concluded that previous reviews of meditation research were incorrect, as they suggested that studies are of low quality with little evidence that the practice effectively lowers blood pressure. The new meta-analysis identified all high quality meditation studies published through 2006 and rigorously analyzed their effects; Anderson said the new meta-analysis includes only high quality studies on all available stress reduction interventions. The studies on Transcendental Meditation were conducted at five independent universities and medical institutions, and the majority of them were funded by competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health.

“The magnitude of the changes in blood pressure with the Transcendental Meditation technique are at least as great as the changes found with major changes in diet or exercise that doctors often recommend,” Anderson said. “Yet the Transcendental Meditation technique does not require changes in lifestyle.

Thus many patients with mild hypertension or prehypertension may be able to avoid the need to take blood pressure medications--all of which have adverse side effects. Individuals with more severe forms of hypertension may be able to reduce the number or dosages of their BP medications under the guidance of their doctor.”

Anderson added that long-term changes in blood pressure of this magnitude are associated with at least a 15 percent reduction in rates of heart attack and stroke. “This is important to everyone because cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S. and worldwide,” Anderson said.

I'll let you know later this month if the Resperate device is a Sham or a Wham,


Anonymous said...

I just slowly breathe in and out 5 times to lower my BP, but if chanting 'ommmm' rocks your world, go for it.

Dave Jensen said...

That's interesting that you can see some results with just five breaths. I've been doing fifteen or twenty minutes a day of slow breathing with that Resperate device mentioned. I object to the very high cost of that cheap-looking device. However, I've been able to get my breaths down from 15 or 20 per minute to just over 3 a minute. I feel like a guru on a mountaintop when I am only breathing 3 or 4 times a minute.


Anonymous said...

I think this is a bit harsh of an evaluation. While a CD might provide good guidance, it doesnt give you feedback. Look, I was running BP of 150-160/90-95 when I was diagnosed with high BP. I went on beta blocker, which immeadiately dropped me to 110-120/70-75 but made me feel like crap and gave me mild asthma. I'm 46 and was facing a life of medication. Instead I made dramatic diet changes (Google DASH Diet) and upped my exercise from 2-3 to 5-7 times a week. I am now running at 120-135/75-85. If I can get another 10/6 off with Resperate, I'll be thrilled. I bought the device, and if it gets me there, 300 dollars is mice nuts.

As far as the construction, OK, it's not the best, but the biofeedback seems to work well, and hey, do you really want to pay for $80 headphones with this. The cheap ones work fine...


Dave Jensen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Jensen said...

Ken, you sound like you work for this company. There are FEW people who have had your degree of success with this ridiculous investment.