In patients with prehypertension, one hour of hatha yoga a day reduced BP levels, according to study findings presented at the 68th Annual Conference of the Cardiological Society of India.
“Patients with prehypertension are likely to develop hypertension unless they improve their lifestyle,” Ashutosh Angrish, MD, lead researcher and cardiologist at Sir Gangaram Hospital in Delhi, India, said in a news release. “Both prehypertension and high BP increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure.”
Angrish and colleagues studied 60 patients with prehypertension to determine how hatha yoga impacts BP. Participants were randomized into two groups, each with 30 patients: yoga plus conventional lifestyle changes (average age, 56 years; 16 women) and conventional lifestyle changes alone (average age, 52 years; 17 women). Participants adhered to their respective interventions for 3 months and their 24-hour ambulatory BP was compared between groups.
A yoga instructor taught stretching exercises (asanas), breath control (pranayam) and meditation techniques to participants in the yoga group for 1 month, then the patients followed these practices at home for the rest of the study duration. Patients practiced yoga for 1 hour every day throughout the 3 months. Conventional lifestyle changes included diet, smoking cessation and moderate aerobic exercise.
In the yoga group, the 24-hour mean BP at baseline was 130/80 mm Hg, while in the control group, it was 127/80 mm Hg. A significant reduction of approximately 4.5 mm Hg in both 24-hour diastolic BP and evening diastolic BP was observed in the yoga group. The yoga group also had a significant reduction of approximately 4.9 mm Hg in 24-hour arterial pressure. BP was not significantly changed in the control group.
“Although the reduction in BP was modest, it could be clinically very meaningful because even a 2 mm Hg decrease in diastolic BP has the potential to decrease the risk of coronary heart disease by 6% and the risk of stroke and transient ischemic attack by 15%,” Angrish said in the release.
“The exact mechanism is not clear from our study but it has been postulated that yoga may decrease the sympathetic drive, reset the baroreceptors and cause neurohumoral effects,” he continued. “The findings suggest that a combination of all three components of yoga (asanas, pranayam and meditation) is helpful but our study is unable to pinpoint their individual contribution.”
“Our research suggests that patients with prehypertension should be advised to practice hatha yoga (a combination of asanas, pranayam and meditation) for 1 hour daily. It may prevent the development of hypertension and in addition give a sense of well-being,” he concluded. – by Alaina Tedesco
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