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Relaxation training may improve control of hard-to-treat systolic hypertension
Date:3/27/2008

Adding the relaxation response, a stress-management approach, to other lifestyle interventions may significantly improve treatment of the type of hypertension most common in the elderly. Among participants in a study conducted at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Hypertension Program and the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at MGH, those who received relaxation response training in addition to advice on reducing lifestyle risk factors were more than twice as likely to successfully eliminate at least one blood pressure medication than were those receiving lifestyle counseling only. The study appears in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Nearly 80 million Americans are classified as having hypertension, and although we have many medications to lower blood pressure, only about a third of patients achieve adequate control of their pressures, says Randall Zusman, MD, co-senior author of the report who leads the Hypertension Program at the MGH Heart Center. If a practice that takes only 15 to 20 minutes a day can help decrease patients dependence on antihypertensive medications reducing often-unpleasant side effects and the considerable costs of these drugs we could not only improve their quality of life but lower direct and indirect health costs by billions of dollars.

Among the elderly patients in whom it is most common, isolated systolic hypertension an increase in only the peak arterial pressure is more closely correlated with adverse events like heart attack, stroke or renal failure than is elevated diastolic pressure. Treating systolic hypertension is particularly challenging since older patients who take many medications are at greater risk for drug interactions and may be more vulnerable to other side effects.

The relaxation response is a physiologic state of deep rest involving both physical and emotional responses to stress that can be elicited by practices such as meditation, dee
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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