"Further studies are needed to confirm the effect in the long term," Modesti said.
Researchers have previously found that relaxation can relieve people's cardiovascular symptoms. But the researchers behind the new study discovered that relaxation significantly affected blood pressure only if it was combined with quiet music.
The findings were to be presented Wednesday at the American Society of Hypertension's annual meeting, in New Orleans.
Modesti said the key appears to be the slow breathing that the patients engaged in during the study.
The findings are useful, he added, because they can complement existing treatments. "The side effects and cost of antihypertensive drugs have led to a consensus about the need for effective non-pharmacological treatment alone or adjunctive to drug therapy," he said.
Dr. George Bakris, director of the hypertensive disorders unit at the University of Chicago, noted that the study only looked at people with mild high blood pressure.
In those patients, he said, it's important to note that "this does not prevent hypertension, but helps to alleviate it."
Learn more about high blood pressure from the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Pietro A. Modesti, M.D., Ph.D., professor, internal medicine, Department of Critical Care Medicine, University of Florence, Italy; George Bakris, M.D., director, hypertensive disorders unit, University of Chicago; May 14, 2008, presentation, American Society of Hypertension annual meeting, New Orleans
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