• Dmitri Konash

Meditation to lower blood pressure?



It is official: meditation for high blood pressure works. Here is how to start and make fast progress


Hundreds of millions of people across the world who suffer from high blood pressure still consider a hypertension pill as their only solution. Some of them may have heard of the health benefits of meditation but consider this type of healing as ‘strange’ at best.


It has been known for centuries that mindfulness practices, like meditation and slow breathing exercises, help to calm down and relax. Over the last few decades scientists have found a strong link between the calming mind and its positive impact on the body. Certain mindfulness practices that help calm the mind can also lower blood pressure.

More and more researchers are working to better understand how positive mental changes affect the cardiovascular system. At the same time studying meditation has proved challenging. The key challenge is that very few of these studies include a good control treatment to compare with meditation.

According to an American Heart Association scientific statement, finally some studies show that meditation can lower blood pressure [1].


According to one of the randomised control studies, a group of subjects who underwent an 8 week meditation training program showed statistically lower blood pressure readings as compared to the control group [2].



In another study, participants went through a 10 session meditation for high blood pressure training program. The main benefits of this program were those with a systolic blood pressure reading of over 140 mmHg. These participants observed an average reduction in their blood pressure of 15.1 mmHg [3].


The high blood pressure challenge


When doctors diagnose someone with hypertension, they typically recommend a healthier diet, regular exercise and weight management. Some people however may find such lifestyle changes difficult to maintain. Doctors might also prescribe hypertension medication. Also, in some people, high blood pressure has a genetic component, and lifestyle changes may not produce a desired effect quickly.


What is a meditation to lower blood pressure?


Meditation is a practice where an individual focuses their mind on a particular thought, activity or object and achieves a mentally clear and emotionally stable and calm mind. This state of mind engages a parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for a ‘rest and digest’ behaviour. The mind directs the body to dilate blood vessels which leads to lower blood pressure.


How to perform a meditation for high blood pressure?

  • Sit in a quiet place where no one can disturb you and close your eyes

  • Relax your muscles and silently repeat a word or sound of your choosing over and over.

  • You may also focus on the air coming in and out your nostrils as you breathe slowly

  • When thoughts interfere (as they will), let them come and go and return to your practice

For an example of a guided 6 min meditation to lower blood pressure please check this video



What apps can help to perform meditation for high blood pressure?


It takes time and constant practice to learn how to meditate. It is better to start from guided meditations as you can relax and just follow directions from your instructor. There are plenty of meditation apps available from Apple AppStore or Google Play. Meditation apps to lower blood pressure have the following benefits:

  • it is easier to stay focussed following a voice of instructor

  • meditation apps usually include a reminder to encourage regular use

  • meditation apps often include additional tools to lower anxiety and BP

One example is a very popular relaxation app Calm, available from Apple AppStore and Google Play. It includes meditations and many other natural tools for relaxation, i.e. sleep stories.

Another popular meditation app is Headspace. Its functionality is quite similar to Calm but its graphic components are bright and the app includes more humour.

BreathNow is a meditation app for high blood pressure. In addition to meditations and breathing exercises it includes instructional videos with other relaxation techniques: yoga, music, acupressure etc. The unique feature of BreathNow is the heart rate monitor within the app to measure objectively what calming techniques work best for you.

BreathNow app provides breathing and meditation for high blood pressure
BreathNow app for high blood pressure

BreathNow breathing and meditation app for high blood pressure is based on years of my personal experience of fighting and winning against anxiety and high blood pressure with natural tools. Please try it and let me know how it works for you.

Summary

  • It has been scientifically proven that meditation can help to lower blood pressure

  • Learning meditation takes time and practice so it is better to start from guided meditations led by experts

  • Meditation apps help to stay focussed and encourage regular use

References:

  1. Meditation and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction, A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5721815/

  2. Benefits of mindfulness meditation in reducing blood pressure and stress in patients with arterial hypertension, Journal of Human Hypertension, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41371-018-0130-6

  3. Mindfulness-Based Blood Pressure Reduction (MB-BP): Stage 1 single-arm clinical trial, Plos One Journal, https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0223095

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