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Exercise, Alternative Therapies May Help Lower Blood Pressure
Date:4/23/2013

ing, transcendental meditation and synchronized breathing (such as breathing to a series of tones) also scored well in terms of effectiveness.

When they're effective, the techniques may reduce the systolic number in a high blood pressure reading -- the top number -- by a modest 5 to 10 millimeters of mercury (mmHg), Brook said. A reading of 140 or higher is a sign of potential trouble.

How do the strategies work to reduce blood pressure? It's not clear in some cases, he said, although exercise appears to boost the functioning of blood vessels by widening them.

Samuel Sears, director of health psychology programs at East Carolina University, in Greenville, N.C., said the report is important but its focus misses the "mental benefits" of alternative treatments. "Patients seek and may gain broader benefits from some of these therapies, such as psychological and perceived control of their condition," he said.

So, should you try these strategies?

Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said they're generally considered safe. However, "the inappropriate reliance on these approaches could result in delays in seeking medical treatment of hypertension," she said. "And many of these interventions are associated with out-of-pocket costs for patients, which is an additional consideration particularly if such interventions are ultimately shown not to be effective."

The report appears April 22 in the journal Hypertension.

More information

For more about high blood pressure, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Robert Brook, M.D., associate professor, medicine, division of cardiovascular medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, Ph.D., M.D., associate professor, medicine and of epidemiolog
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