Mindfulness and Blood Pressure – Is There a Link or Not?

Mindfulness and High Blood Pressure.  Is there a correlation?

High blood pressure and hypertension affect millions worldwide. Hypertension is the silent killer. Many don’t know they have it until it’s too late. Therefore, you can imagine the joy in a recent study that basically states that practicing mindfulness-based stress reduction can lower your blood pressure?

It seems to be very effective in the pre-hypertension range. Then,you can imagine the disappointment when another study came out that states the opposite… grrrrr…  It would be cool if mindfulness and blood pressure go hand-in-hand, wouldn’t it?

(FTC and FDA Disclaimer – I’m not a doctor, so never listen to me about anything medical because I have no medical degrees.)

First, here’s a little education on blood-pressure itself.  It’s interesting, so watch it 🙂

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Aneroid sphygmomanometer with stethoscope, use...

I have experienced lowering blood pressure directly after meditating, although time will tell if it is sustainable in the long term, so I’m not going to sit here and tell you that there’s a cure… far from it.  What I will tell you though is that there’s hope in them thar meditations and mindfulness exercises I like to blabber on about.

To Reduce High Blood Pressure

I found the article on PsychCentral, and it’s called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Helps Lower Blood Pressure by Janice Wood.  She states,

One group of patients was assigned to a program of MBSR, which included eight group sessions of 2 1/2 hours per week. Led by an experienced instructor, the sessions included three types of mindfulness skills: Body scan exercises, sitting meditation, and yoga exercises. Patients were also encouraged to perform mindfulness exercises at home.

The other group received lifestyle advice, plus a muscle-relaxation activity.

At the conclusion of the program, patients in the mindfulness-based intervention group had significant reductions in blood pressure measurements, according to the researchers.

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 in the group who did not receive the mindfulness intervention.

Diastolic blood pressure (the second, lower number) was also lower in the mindfulness-based intervention group — showing a reduction of nearly 2 mm Hg, compared to an increase of 1 mm Hg in the control group.

[LINK]

Mind-Body Connection

This is significant. While it’s important to note that this study was led by a qualified instructor under supervision, this lends tremendous credence to the benefits of meditation and practicing mindfulness.  There is growing evidence of a direct link between what you think (or don’t think), and your physiology.

Of course, more research needs to be done, but if it’s working, that’s awesome news.  Studies like this help validate the efficacy, or at least some health benefits, of meditation and mindfulness.

Another study published recently states the opposite though.  A study done in Toronto stated,

“Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a program that helps people learn about their relationship with their thoughts, emotions, behaviours and sensations.

Tobe admitted the research team expected mindfulness-based stress reduction, or MBSR, would be effective…

…In the trial, 101 adults in the early stages of a blood pressure problem were randomly assigned to either take the eight-week mindfulness program or not. In addition to attending weekly classes on MBSR, participants had to do homework — practise the technique out of class. They also had to keep a log of their efforts.

Then, at 12 weeks after the start of the study, blood pressure readings from the participants were compared to their blood pressure from the start of the study. There were no differences between the two groups.”

[LINK]

I’d written about a number of mindfulness exercises here.  Check them out and see what they can do for you.  I’m not going to tell you that you can lower your blood pressure, but they may make you feel pretty good, or give you some new perspective on things.  Check them out and give them a try.

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If you want guided all-day active mindfulness, check out this very inexpensive course on Udemy. I bought it and have been through it, and it's good.