Mindfulness is a centuries-old practice that’s become trendy in recent years — and a new study now says it can help your heart health.
Training in mindfulness can help people better manage their high blood pressure by helping them stick to healthy lifestyle changes, a new clinical trial reports.
An eight-week customized mindfulness program helped people lower their systolic blood pressure by nearly 6 points during a six-month follow-up period, researchers found.
That was significantly better than the 1.4-point reduction that occurred in people undergoing usual blood pressure care, researchers said during a presentation Sunday at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting, in Chicago. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The results could be relevant to a patient’s health, given that previous studies have found that a 5-point drop in systolic pressure translates to a 10% lower risk of heart attack and stroke, said lead researcher Eric Loucks, director of the Mindfulness Center at Brown University.
“If we can train people in mindfulness skills and then apply those skills to people’s relationships with the things that we know influence blood pressure — like physical activity or diet or antihypertensive medication adherence or alcohol consumption — we might be able to boost the effects” of their prescribed blood pressure control plan, Loucks said.
For example, in this study participants armed with mindfulness training tended to exercise more and eat better, he noted.
About 46% of Americans have high blood pressure, but only about half of them have it under control, Loucks said.
Loucks and his colleagues recruited about 100 people with elevated and untreated blood pressure to attend weekly group training sessions in mindfulness. These people also went to an all-day mindfulness retreat.
Mindfulness training enhances people’s self-awareness of their own thoughts, emotions and physical sensations, helping them pay attention to their responses and regulate their emotions, Loucks said.
In this instance, mindfulness helps people perceive and acknowledge how they feel after they make good choices that improve their blood pressure, he said.
“Just about everybody feels good after physical activity, often for hours, and dietary choices can make a big impact on how we feel on the body and the mind. For example, some people, when they eat something sweet, they get a sugar high and then a sugar crash,” Loucks said. “So we just notice that, with nonjudgmental, curious awareness, and then act in skillfully in response to what we’re detecting.”
The researchers then compared how well the patients controlled their blood pressure for six months to another group of 100 patients that were given the usual care: a home blood pressure monitor, education on managing blood pressure and access to a doctor.
“We saw pretty nice reductions in blood pressure over six months of follow-up compared to the control group,” Loucks said.
Further analysis found that people in the mindfulness group were more likely to eat heart-healthy foods, exercise more and indulge less often in sedentary behavior, Loucks said. They also reported lower levels of stress.
“I’d like to see this replicated by groups other than us, with longer follow-up time and more generalizable participant samples,” Loucks said. “If that were to happen and the results held, it could be an appealing approach to help control the blood pressure of about half of Americans who have hypertension.”
Such mindfulness training could support strategies that have already been proven to help control blood pressure, said Dr. Amit Khera, director of the preventive cardiology program at UT Southwestern in Dallas.
“We need complementary strategies to help lower blood pressure,” Khera said. “Equally importantly, we need strategies to help people adopt the lifestyle habits that enable them to help lower their blood pressure.”
The 6-point blood pressure reduction seen in the mindfulness patients “is clinically important, and it is meaningful,” added Dr. Janani Rangaswami, director of the cardiorenal program at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
“This mindfulness-based approach, in addition to standard of care with pharmacotherapy, is a really welcome addition to the hypertension literature,” Rangaswami said.
What This Means for You
People trying to control their blood pressure should consider mindfulness as another way to help them achieve their goals.
SOURCES: Eric Loucks, Ph.D., director, Mindfulness Center, Brown University, Providence, R.I.; Amit Khera, MD, director, preventive cardiology program, UT Southwestern, Dallas; Janani Rangaswami, MD, director, cardiorenal program, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.; presentation, American Heart Association annual meeting, Chicago, Nov. 6, 2022
Important Notice: This article was originally published at https://consumer.healthday.com by Dennis Thompson where all credits are due.
The watching, interacting, and participation of any kind with anything on this page does not constitute or initiate a doctor-patient relationship with Dr. Farrah™. None of the statements here have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The products of Dr. Farrah™ are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information being provided should only be considered for education and entertainment purposes only. If you feel that anything you see or hear may be of value to you on this page or on any other medium of any kind associated with, showing, or quoting anything relating to Dr. Farrah™ in any way at any time, you are encouraged to and agree to consult with a licensed healthcare professional in your area to discuss it. If you feel that you’re having a healthcare emergency, seek medical attention immediately. The views expressed here are simply either the views and opinions of Dr. Farrah™ or others appearing and are protected under the first amendment.
Dr. Farrah™ is a highly experienced Licensed Medical Doctor certified in evidence-based clinical nutrition, not some enthusiast, formulator, or medium promoting the wild and unrestrained use of nutrition products for health issues without clinical experience and scientific evidence of therapeutic benefit. Dr. Farrah™ has personally and keenly studied everything she recommends, and more importantly, she’s closely observed the reactions and results in a clinical setting countless times over the course of her career involving the treatment of over 150,000 patients.
Dr. Farrah™ promotes evidence-based natural approaches to health, which means integrating her individual scientific and clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research. By individual clinical expertise, I refer to the proficiency and judgment that individual clinicians acquire through clinical experience and clinical practice.
Dr. Farrah™ does not make any representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness, or completeness of any multimedia content provided. Dr. Farrah™ does not warrant the performance, effectiveness, or applicability of any sites listed, linked, or referenced to, in, or by any multimedia content.
To be clear, the multimedia content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen in any website, video, image, or media of any kind. Dr. Farrah™ hereby disclaims any and all liability to any party for any direct, indirect, implied, punitive, special, incidental, or other consequential damages arising directly or indirectly from any use of the content, which is provided as is, and without warranties.