Science

Exercise To Combat Blood Pressure

By Enozia Vakil , May 14, 2013 07:59 AM EDT
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A new statement, published in the journal Hypertension, said that using alternative therapies as a treatment for elevated blood pressure could be beneficial and effective, especially for people having blood pressure levels higher than 120/80 mm Hg, and cannot tolerate standard medications.

Weight management, a low sodium diet, abstinence from smoking and drinking, and proper drug use coupled with moderate physical activity are essential to maintain healthy blood pressure levels, and trying aerobic exercises and strength training exercises as a part of the physical activity could be more efficient, the study shows.

Though these alternative therapies may help combat high blood pressure levels to a great extent, they cannot be actually used as an alternative to the traditional medications and a low sodium diet. They must be used along with the prior treatment suggested by a physician to demonstrate maximum benefits.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for a number of cardiovascular diseases inlcudng heart attacks and stroke, and affects more than 26 percent of the total population worldwide.

The expert panel carrying out this particular study assessed three alternative therapies: meditation, acupuncture and device-guided slow breathing.

"There aren't many large well-designed studies lasting longer than a few weeks looking at alternative therapies, yet patients have a lot of questions about their value," said Robert D. Brook, M.D., Chair of the panel and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. "A common request from patients is, 'I don't like to take medications, what can I do to lower my blood pressure?' We wanted to provide some direction."

One of the major benefits of using alternative therapies as a treatment for high blood pressure is that these therapies do not have any literal side effects, and hardly pose any health risks, as opposed to the regular treatment methods.

The study, which examined the effects of yoga, biofeedback mechanism, device-guided breathing, acupuncture, relaxation and stress reduction techniques, found that these practices could help decrease high blood pressure to an impressive 10 percent lower value than it was earlier.

"Most alternative approaches reduce systolic blood pressure by only 2-10 mm Hg; whereas standard doses of a blood pressure-lowering drug reduce systolic blood pressure by about 10-15 mm Hg," Brook said. "So, alternative approaches can be added to a treatment regimen after patients discuss their goals with their doctors."

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