Alternative Approaches to Help Lower Blood Pressure
A new scientific report published by the American Heart Association in its journal Hypertension states that alternative therapies such as aerobic exercise, resistance training, and isometric hand grip exercises may help reduce high blood pressure (hypertension). After reviewing several studies, researchers report that people whose blood pressure levels are higher than 120/80 mm Hg who cannot tolerate or do not respond well to standard medications may benefit from these exercises. However, they warn that these alternative approaches must not replace medically proven methods to lower blood pressure, such as weight management, smoking cessation, avoiding alcohol, a low sodium, balanced diet, and taking prescribed medications.
An expert panel led by Robert D. Brook, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor evaluated three categories of alternative treatments for hypertension. These included exercise regimens, behavioral therapies such as meditation, and non-invasive procedures like acupuncture. The review did not include dietary or herbal treatments.
Brook and his colleagues reviewed studies published from 2006-2011, which included 1,000 studies on various behavioral therapies, non-invasive procedures and devices, and three types of exercise (aerobic, resistance training and isometric exercises, using hand grip devices).
The investigators found that of all the methods they reviewed, exercising produced the most benefits, with a 10% drop in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Behavioral therapies such as biofeedback and transcendental meditation may help lower blood pressure but only by a small degree. Evidence is lacking on the benefits of yoga, other relaxation techniques, and acupuncture for reducing blood pressure.
They conclude that patients can add alternative approaches to a therapeutic regimen for high blood pressure after discussing their goals with their doctors.
American Heart Association. Alternative therapies may help lower blood pressure. ScienceDaily.