Meditation group achieved lower blood pressure
The study, published in the April issue of the American Journal of Hypertension, focused on 156 US teens who had blood pressure in the "high-normal" range. Half of the study group practiced transcendental meditation (TM); the other half got information at school about how to lower their blood pressure, such as following a low-salt diet and exercising.
The results showed that those who meditated achieved lower blood pressures, with a 3.5 drop in systolic pressure (the top number that indicates the pressure inside blood vessels that the heart is pumping against) and 3.4 in diastolic pressure (the bottom number that indicates pressure while the heart is at rest). The group that only received information had no significant change in pressure from the beginning of the study to the end.
Blood pressures dropped to healthier levels
On average, the TM subjects’ blood pressures were about 129 systolic at the start and dropped to about 125 at four months and at the four-month follow-up. The diastolic pressures started out at about 75 (a normal level) and were down to a little more than 71 at the study end and to 72.9 at the four-month follow up.
A pressure of below 120 over 80 is termed optimal.
Exactly how meditation might lower blood pressure is still uncertain. It may decrease sympathetic nervous system tone and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, among other actions, which could lead to blood pressure reduction.
High blood pressure affects one in four adults in the United States and is a major risk factor of heart attack and stroke, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
1. Barnes , V.A.; Johnson, M. H., Treiber, F.A., “Impact of Transcendental Meditation on Ambulatory Blood Pressure in African-American Adolescents,” American Journal of Hypertension, Volume 17, Issue 4, Pages 366-369 (April 2004).