A new study has found that yoga can improve blood pressure among prehypertension patients. Prehypertension means that elevated blood pressure is close to the dangerous levels, but can be brought down to reduce one’s risk of hypertension – high blood pressure.
Lead author Dr. Ashutosh Angrish explained, “Patients with prehypertension (slightly elevated blood pressure) are likely to develop hypertension (high blood pressure) unless they improve their lifestyle. Both prehypertension and high blood pressure increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.”
The researchers explored the benefits of hatha yoga on blood pressure in 60 patients with prehypertension. Participants were split into two groups: One group partook in regular yoga and lifestyle adjustments while the other partook in lifestyle adjustments only to reduce blood pressure.
Average age of the participants was 56 years in the yoga group and 52 in the control group. Blood pressure readings in the yoga group was an average of 130/80 mm Hg and 127/80 mm Hg in the control group.
In the yoga group, diastolic blood pressure decreased by an average of 4.5 mm Hg and systolic by 4.9 mm Hg. On the other hand, the control group did not show significant differences in their blood pressure.
Dr. Angrish explained, “Although the reduction in blood pressure was modest, it could be clinically very meaningful because even a two mm Hg decrease in diastolic BP [blood pressure] has the potential to decrease the risk of coronary heart disease by six percent and the risk of stroke and transient ischemic attack by 15 percent. Our research suggests that patients with prehypertension should be advised to practice hatha yoga (a combination of asanas, pranayama, and meditation) for one hour daily. It may prevent the development of hypertension and in addition give a sense of well-being.”
Dr Shirish Hiremath, CSI President Elect and Chairman of the CSI 2016 Scientific Committee, said, “Yoga is a part of traditional Indian culture, and has shown clear benefit in cases of prehypertension. Easy to practice and can be adapted by masses and is also very economical, yoga can go a long way in improving the overall health of the country, as hypertension is affecting a large number of young Indians. Yoga can turn out to be just the correct answer for people at risk.”
Professor Roberto Ferrari, a past president of the ESC and course director of the ESC programme in India, said: “Cardiovascular disease can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol. Exercise, including yoga, a good quality diet, and not smoking are all steps in the right direction.”