Can Meditation Improve High Blood Pressure?

MeditationThere is an epidemic of chronic diseases and this includes diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The incidence of hypertension has been increasing not only in developed countries but also in developing countries. Hypertension is a major public health problem because of how widespread it has become. There is a severe type of hypertension that has been observed among persons of African descent.

What is High Blood Pressure?

High pressure occurs when there is a build-up of pressure in the arteries. Over time the arteries are damaged. A blood pressure reading is given using two numbers, the higher number represents the systolic pressure and the lower number is called the diastolic pressure. A reading of 120/80 represents a normal blood pressure reading.

Signs and Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

Amazingly, there can be no symptom at all experienced by some patients. The high blood pressure is discovered only when the blood pressure reading is done. There are others who complain of:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nose bleed
  • Pain or pressure at the back of the head or neck
  • Blurred vision

Triggers that could elevate the blood pressure

  • A diet high in salt
  • Overweight
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • High alcohol intake
  • Stress (mental and physical exertion)

Achieving the Relaxation Response

There are many studies that have been done which demonstrate that there can be a lowering of the blood pressure by up to 10 points off the upper figure and 6 points of the lower when the relaxation response is practiced.

Meditation is a mind-body practice which allows the body to attain a deep state of rest and inner peace. During this time there are biochemical changes in the body.

It must be emphasized that other lifestyle practices should be a part of the non-drug therapy:

  1. Reducing sodium in the diet, a major source is table salt
  2. Increasing intake of potassium (a good source is ripe banana)
  3. Moderate exercise 15 minutes daily
  4. Reducing alcohol intake
  5. Smoking cessation

Persons who are on drug therapy for hypertension should not stop taking medication without consulting with their primary care physician. Meditation and the other non-drug therapy could result in a normalizing of the blood pressure. Typically the doctor will decrease the drug therapy or discontinue the same while continuing to monitor the blood pressure.

Hello_docja MD, Readers Bureau, Contributor

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