Change Behavior for the Better with Mindfulness

Change Behavior for the Better with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness practice supports and facilitates behavior change through training attention, emotion, and self-awareness.” – Yi-Yuan Tang

 

We tend to think that illness is produced by physical causes, disease, injury, viruses, bacteria, etc. But many health problems are behavioral problems or have their origins in maladaptive behavior. This is evident in car accident injuries that are frequently due to behaviors, such as texting while driving, driving too fast or aggressively, or driving drunk. Other problematic behaviors are cigarette smoking, alcoholism, drug use, or unprotected sex.

 

Problems can also be produced by lack of appropriate behavior such as sedentary lifestyle, not eating a healthy diet, not getting sufficient sleep or rest, or failing to take medications according to the physician’s orders. Additionally, behavioral issues can be subtle contributors to disease such as denying a problem and failing to see a physician timely or not washing hands. In fact, many modern health issues, costing the individual or society billions of dollars each year, and reducing longevity, are largely preventable.

 

Hence, promoting healthy behaviors and eliminating unhealthy ones has the potential to markedly improve health. Mindfulness training has been shown to promote health and improve illness. It is well established that mindfulness can improve healthy behaviors. The research has been accumulating. So, it is reasonable to stop and summarize what has been learned. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Behavior Change.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7647439/ )  Schuman-Olivier and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the ability of mindfulness training to promote healthy behaviors.

 

They report that the published studies found that mindfulness training reduces cravings and produces improvements in alcohol and substance abuse disorders, binge eating disorder, obesity, improves smoking cessation, reduces emotional eating and eating when not hungry and produces weight reduction. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve self-management of chronic diseases, including hypertension, COPD, and diabetes and results in improvements in quality of life and reductions in anxiety and depression. Mindfulness training also reduces impulsive behavior, risky sexual behavior, aggression, and violent behaviors. It also reduces self-injury, suicidal thinking, and suicidal behavior.

 

The authors go on to produce and discuss a model of how mindfulness training may be improving troubling behaviors. They speculate that mindfulness training produces a general improvement in self-regulation which results in improved control of behavior. This self-regulation is produced by improvements in attention and cognitive control, emotion regulation, and self-related processes, as well as motivation and learning ability. Regardless, it is clear that mindfulness training improves behaviors that can lead to or exacerbate illness. It’s actually amazing that such simple practices can have such profound and widespread effects in promoting health and well-being and treating diseases.

 

So, change behavior for the better with mindfulness.

 

On your path to create change invite compassion and embrace and accept where you are. Only from a place of compassion will your efforts move into fruition. What is the next compassionate step you can make towards this change today?” – Carley Hauck

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Schuman-Olivier, Z., Trombka, M., Lovas, D. A., Brewer, J. A., Vago, D. R., Gawande, R., Dunne, J. P., Lazar, S. W., Loucks, E. B., & Fulwiler, C. (2020). Mindfulness and Behavior Change. Harvard review of psychiatry, 28(6), 371–394. https://doi.org/10.1097/HRP.0000000000000277

 

Abstract

Initiating and maintaining behavior change is key to the prevention and treatment of most preventable chronic medical and psychiatric illnesses. The cultivation of mindfulness, involving acceptance and nonjudgment of present-moment experience, often results in transformative health behavior change. Neural systems involved in motivation and learning have an important role to play. A theoretical model of mindfulness that integrates these mechanisms with the cognitive, emotional, and self-related processes commonly described, while applying an integrated model to health behavior change, is needed. This integrative review (1) defines mindfulness and describes the mindfulness-based intervention movement, (2) synthesizes the neuroscience of mindfulness and integrates motivation and learning mechanisms within a mindful self-regulation model for understanding the complex effects of mindfulness on behavior change, and (3) synthesizes current clinical research evaluating the effects of mindfulness-based interventions targeting health behaviors relevant to psychiatric care. The review provides insight into the limitations of current research and proposes potential mechanisms to be tested in future research and targeted in clinical practice to enhance the impact of mindfulness on behavior change.

CONCLUSION

A growing evidence base supports the benefits of mindfulness for behavior change. A mindful self-regulation model based on an integration of neuroscientific findings describes the complex and synergistic effects of attention/cognitive control, emotion regulation, and self-related processes, as well as motivation and learning mechanisms that may provide a unique pathway toward sustainable behavior change. While evidence supports the impact of mindfulness on behavior change for key health behaviors related to psychiatric practice, more high-quality research is needed, especially with objective measures, larger samples, replication studies, active controls, and formal monitoring of adverse events.474 The field will also benefit from additional research on the impact of integrating compassion practices and from a focus on trauma-sensitive adaptations for diverse populations.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7647439/

 

Reduce Blood Pressure with Tai Chi

Reduce Blood Pressure with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

As is true for meditation and deep breathing exercises, tai chi may help lower blood pressure. . .  It’s not as much as you’d see from taking medication, but it’s similar in magnitude to other lifestyle interventions, such as doing modest amounts of exercise and consuming less sodium.” – Harvard Health

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Treatment frequently includes antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely.

 

Obviously, there is a need for alternatives to drugs for reducing blood pressure. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. Tai Chi is ancient mindfulness practice involving slow prescribed movements. Since Tai Chi is both a mindfulness practice and an exercise, it is particularly acceptable and effective methods to improve cardiovascular health. The research has been accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials of the Effects of Tai Chi on Blood Pressure.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7563036/ ) Dong and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the ability of Tai Chi practice to reduce blood pressure in both normal and hypertensive patients. They identified 24 published controlled trials.

 

They report that the published research studies found that Tai Chi practice significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in both hypertensive and normal blood pressure participants. But the improvements observed with Tai Chi practice were no greater than those found with other aerobic exercises. The published research studies then demonstrate that Tai Chi practice reduces blood pressure in both normal and hypertensive patients. But is no better than other aerobic exercises.

 

Thus, exercise in general including Tai Chi practice is good for cardiovascular health. Tai Chi practice, though, has a number of advantages. It is gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. Hence, Tai Chi practice may be better for cardiovascular health than other exercises because it is more likely to be engaged in and maintained.

 

So, reduce blood pressure with Tai Chi.

 

Tai chi may be just as effective as popular methods for lowering blood pressure, such as weight loss and lowered sodium intake.” – Abbott

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Dong, X., Ding, M., & Yi, X. (2020). Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials of the Effects of Tai Chi on Blood Pressure. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2020, 8503047. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/8503047

 

Abstract

Objectives

The purpose of this study was to investigate the influences of Tai Chi on blood pressure (BP) using the meta-analysis.

Methods

This paper used 6 e-resource databases, and randomized controlled trials on the role of Tai Chi on blood pressure were retrieved. Besides, the meta-analysis was conducted according to the guidelines of the Moose-recommendations and applied with Review Manager 5.3, and the risk of bias assessment was performed with the Cochrane Collaboration’s tool. The inclusion, data extraction, and risk of bias assessment were independently finished by two researchers.

Results

There are 24 trials meeting the criteria of inclusion and the results were reviewed. The meta-analysis indicates that, compared with no exercise, Tai Chi had the influence of lowering systolic blood pressure (mean difference = −6.07, 95%CI (−8.75, −3.39), P < 0.00001) and diastolic blood pressure (mean difference MD = −3.83, 95%CI (−4.97, −2.69), P < 0.00001). No significant discrepancies in all outcomes between Tai Chi and other aerobic exercises were discovered.

Conclusion

Tai Chi can significantly reduce systolic and diastolic pressure than inactivity. However, Tai Chi does not show advantages in reducing blood pressure compared to other aerobic exercises.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7563036/

 

Decrease Hypertension with Tai Chi

Decrease Hypertension with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai chi may be just as effective as popular methods for lowering blood pressure, such as weight loss and lowered sodium intake. . . tai chi may positively affect blood cholesterol, related lipids and inflammation. This means that enjoying tai chi regularly may lower your chance of heart disease.” – Abbot

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Treatment frequently includes antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely.

 

Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. Mindful movement practices such Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient Chinese practices involving mindfulness and gentle movements. They are easy to learn, safe, and gentle. So, it may be appropriate for patients with hypertension who lack the ability to engage in strenuous exercises. Indeed, Qigong practice has been shown to reduce blood pressure. There have been a number of studies performed and it is useful to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Efficacy of Tai Chi and Qigong Exercises on Blood Pressure and Blood Levels of Nitric Oxide and Endothelin-1 in Patients with Essential Hypertension: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7414352/) Liu and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice in treating hypertension. They found 9 published randomized controlled trials including a total of 516 patients.

 

They report that the published research found that Tai Chi practice produced a significant reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure and blood endothelin-1 levels and significant increases in blood nitrous oxide levels. Endothelin-1 is a powerful vasoconstrictor and Nitrous Oxide is a powerful vasodilator. So, the reduced levels of Endothelin-1 and increased levels of Nitrous Oxide in patients performing Tai Chi may be a physiological mechanism by which the practice lowers blood pressure.

 

These findings suggest that Tai Chi practice is a safe and effective treatment to lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension. Some advantages of Tai Chi include the facts that it is not strenuous, involves slow gentle movements, and is safe, having no appreciable side effects, it is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It can also be practiced without professional supervision and in groups making it inexpensive to deliver and fun to engage in. This makes Tai Chi practice an excellent treatment for hypertension.

 

So, decrease hypertension with Tai Chi.

 

High blood pressure can precede cardiovascular complications, such as a heart attack, so it is important to keep it in check. If your blood pressure is too high, there is a simple exercise you can do at home. . . Evidence suggests tai chi, a mind-body practice that has its origin Chinese martial arts, can lower high blood pressure.” – Adam Chapman

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Liu, D., Yi, L., Sheng, M., Wang, G., & Zou, Y. (2020). The Efficacy of Tai Chi and Qigong Exercises on Blood Pressure and Blood Levels of Nitric Oxide and Endothelin-1 in Patients with Essential Hypertension: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2020, 3267971. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/3267971

 

Abstract

Objective

Tai Chi and Qigong are the two similar traditional Chinese wellness exercises. A strong body of published clinical randomized controlled trials (RCTs) has investigated the health benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong exercises (TCQE) in patients with essential hypertension (EH). This is the first meta-analysis to evaluate the efficacy of TCQE on blood pressure (BP) and blood levels of nitric oxide (NO) and endothelin-1 (ET-1) in EH patients and explore the potential antihypertensive mechanism of TCQE.

Methods

We conducted a literature retrieval for Chinese and English studies in seven databases from their respective inceptions until January 14, 2020. All RCTs examining clinical efficacy of TCQE for EH patients were considered. The major therapeutic outcomes of TCQE were changes in the blood levels of NO, ET-1, and BP in EH patients. Methodological quality of the included RCTs was detected via The Cochrane Risk of Bias tool. We evaluated the data reported and performed the meta-analysis by Review Manager 5.3 software.

Results

9 RCTs involving 516 EH patients were included. The intervention duration lasted from 1.5 months to 6 months. The results of comprehensive analysis showed that compared with control interventions, experimental interventions were more effective in reducing the systolic blood pressure and the diastolic blood pressure and contributed higher blood levels of NO and lower blood levels of ET-1.

Conclusions

TCQE could be an effective complementary and alternative therapy for EH. The lower BP in EH patients who practice TCQE may have some connection with exercise-related increased blood NO levels and decreased blood ET-1 levels. However, further research is needed to make clear the efficacy of TCQE in management of EH and the mechanism of lowering BP in TCQE.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7414352/

 

Reduce Hypertension with a Mindfulness Smartphone App

Reduce Hypertension with a Mindfulness Smartphone App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Investigators found mindfulness was associated with a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure at 1 year and had other gains including better adherence to a recommended diet, lower salt intake, reduced alcohol consumption, and increased physical activity.” – Damian McNamara

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Treatment frequently includes antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely.

 

Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained teacher. This results in costs that many patients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, Apps for smartphones have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations.

 

In today’s Research News article “Impact of 12-Month Smartphone Breathing Meditation Program upon Systolic Blood Pressure among Non-Medicated Stage 1 Hypertensive Adults.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7143262/), Chandler and colleagues recruited adults with non-medicated stage 1 systolic hypertension; systolic blood pressure of 121–139 mmHg. They were randomly assigned to receive via smartphone app 3 months of either mindfulness training or health education. The mindfulness training app, Tension Tamer, employed twice daily practice of focused meditation for 10-15 minutes. The health education app, Runkeeper, delivered lifestyle health education messages focusing on exercise. They were measured before during and after training and 3 and 9 months later for systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

 

They found that the mindfulness trained group had greater reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure at the end of training and 9 months later. In addition, a greater proportion of mindfulness trained participants achieved reductions sufficient to remove them from being classified as having stage 1 systolic hypertension.

 

There were no significant differences found in perceived stress. Even though mindfulness training has been shown in prior studies to reduce perceived stress, it does not appear to be responsible for decrease blood pressure in the present study. Measures of heart rate during the meditation practice revealed significant decreases in heart rate over the session. This suggests that the mindfulness training was successful in reducing blood pressure by increasing relaxation perhaps by increasing the activity of the parasympathetic component of the autonomic nervous system.

 

So, reduce hypertension with a mindfulness smartphone app.

 

“mindfulness meditation in combination with conventional medication treatment reduces blood pressure and stress levels, while improving mindfulness and mood more than medication coupled with health education.” – goamra.org

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chandler, J., Sox, L., Diaz, V., Kellam, K., Neely, A., Nemeth, L., & Treiber, F. (2020). Impact of 12-Month Smartphone Breathing Meditation Program upon Systolic Blood Pressure among Non-Medicated Stage 1 Hypertensive Adults. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(6), 1955. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17061955

 

Abstract

(1) Background: Hypertension (HTN) affects ~50% of adults and is a major risk factor for stroke and cardiovascular disease. In 2017, the SPRINT trial outcomes led to lowering of HTN cutoffs by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA). The Joint National Committee (JNC8) and National High BP Education Program recommend that lifestyle modifications be used as first-line HTN treatment. Chronic stress is a risk factor for HTN and cardiovascular disease. A recently completed 12 month randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a breathing meditation smart phone app (Tension Tamer, TT) involving JNC8 designated pre-HTN adults provided an opportunity to examine its impact upon individuals now classified as having stage 1 HTN. The TT app captures continuous real-time heart rate (HR) from a user’s fingertip placed over a video camera lens during sessions. Users receive immediate feedback graphs after each session, showing their HR changes. They also receive motivational and social reinforcement SMS text messages the following day based upon levels of adherence. We conducted ancillary analyses of a 2-arm, 12-month, small-scale efficacy RCT among a subgroup of our total sample of participants, who are now classified as having stage 1 non-medicated systolic HTN. Primary outcome was change in resting systolic blood pressure (SBP). Secondary outcomes were change in resting diastolic blood pressure, adherence to the TT protocol, and perceived stress levels. (2) Methods: 30 adults (mean age: 45.0 years; 15 males; 16 White; 14 Black) with ACC/AHA 2017 defined systolic HTN (130–139 mmHg) on 3 consecutive sessions (mean SBP: 132.6 mmHg) were randomly assigned to TT or lifestyle education program delivered via smartphone (SPCTL). Each group received a twice-daily dosage schedule of TT or walking (month 1: 15 min; months 2 and 3: 10 min; months 4–12: 5 min). (3) Results: Mixed modeling results revealed a significant group x time effect for SBP (p<.01). The TT group showed greater SBP reductions at months 3 (−8.0 vs. −1.9), 6 (−10.0 vs. −0.7), and 12: (−11.6 vs. −0.4 mmHg; all p-values <0.04). (4) Conclusion: The TT app was beneficial in reducing SBP levels among adults with stage 1 systolic HTN. The TT app may be a promising, scalable first-line tactic for stage 1 HTN. Preparations are underway for an efficacy RCT involving uncontrolled stage 1 HTN patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7143262/

 

Religious and Spiritual Coping Reduces the Risk of Hypertension.

Religious and Spiritual Coping Reduces the Risk of Hypertension.

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Scientific literature have recorded that spiritual well-being is associated with better physical and mental health, according to psycho-neuro-immune models of health. Spirituality and religion can help patients, their families and caregivers dealing with illness and other stressful life events.” – Marcelo Saad

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Hypertension is more prevalent in African American populations.

 

High blood pressure, because it doesn’t have any primary symptoms, is usually only diagnosed by direct measurement of blood pressure usually by a health care professional. When hypertension is chronically present over three quarters of patients are treated with antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely. Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension.

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental healthReligiosity is also known to help with a wide range of physical and psychological problems. So, it would make sense to investigate the influence of spirituality and religiosity on hypertension in African Americans.

 

In today’s Research News article “). Religious and Spiritual Coping and Risk of Incident Hypertension in the Black Women’s Health Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6230974/), Cozier and colleagues performed a secondary analysis of the data provided by a large U.S. national sample of adult black women. The women had completed a large array of measures. But for the present study measures were extracted of religion/spirituality, positive religious coping, perceived stress, depression, and experiences of racism. They were also measured 8 years later for the incidence of hypertension.

 

They found that women who reported high levels of religion/spirituality were older, more educated, less likely to smoke or drink, lived in disadvantaged neighborhoods, and with lower levels of perceived stress. Significantly, they also found that women high in positive religious coping had a significantly lower risk of developing hypertension 8 years later. This association was strongest in women with the highest levels of perceived stress.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that the development of hypertension is associated with stress and that positive religious coping can mitigate the effects of stress on blood pressure. Positive religious coping involves using “religious and spiritual resources to cope with and adapt to stressful life circumstances.” Hence spiritualty and religiosity can promote better health in black women by providing them with methods to cope with the stresses in their lives.

 

So, reduce the risk of hypertension with religious/spiritual coping.

 

Religious coping now represents a key variable of interest in research on health outcomes, not only because many individuals turn to their faith in times of illness, but also because studies have frequently found that religious coping is associated with desirable health outcomes.” – Jeremey Cummings

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Cozier, Y. C., Yu, J., Wise, L. A., VanderWeele, T. J., Balboni, T. A., Argentieri, M. A., … Shields, A. E. (2018). Religious and Spiritual Coping and Risk of Incident Hypertension in the Black Women’s Health Study. Annals of behavioral medicine : a publication of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, 52(12), 989–998. doi:10.1093/abm/kay001

 

Abstract

Background

The few studies of the relationship between religion and/or spirituality (R/S) and hypertension are conflicting. We hypothesized that R/S may reduce the risk of hypertension by buffering adverse physiological effects of stress.

Methods

We prospectively assessed the association of R/S with hypertension within the Black Women’s Health Study (BWHS), a cohort study initiated in 1995 that follows participants through biennial questionnaires. The 2005 questionnaire included four R/S questions: (i) extent to which one’s R/S is involved in coping with stressful situations, (ii) self-identification as a religious/spiritual person, (iii) frequency of attending religious services, and (iv) frequency of prayer. Incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and 95% confidence intervals were calculated for each R/S variable in relation to incident hypertension using Cox proportional hazards regression models, controlling for demographics, known hypertension risk factors, psychosocial factors, and other R/S variables.

Results

During 2005–2013, 5,194 incident cases of hypertension were identified. High involvement of R/S in coping with stressful events compared with no involvement was associated with reduced risk of hypertension (IRR: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.75, 1.00). The association was strongest among women reporting greater levels of perceived stress (IRR: 0.77; 95% CI: 0.61, 0.98; p interaction = .01). More frequent prayer was associated with increased risk of hypertension (IRR: 1.12; 95% CI: 0.99, 1.27). No association was observed for the other R/S measures.

Conclusion

R/S coping was associated with decreased risk of hypertension in African American women, especially among those reporting higher levels of stress. Further research is needed to understand the mechanistic pathways through which R/S coping may affect health.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6230974/

 

Improve Vascular Function and blood Pressure with Meditation

Improve Vascular Function and blood Pressure with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Studies have also linked meditation to healthier arteries and improved blood flow to the heart.” – CardioSmart

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. Treatment frequently includes antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely.

 

Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. Indeed, meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. These practices have also been shown to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress and to be helpful for producing the kinds of lifestyle changes needed to prevent heart disease such as smoking cessation, and weight reduction. They have also been shown to be effective in maintaining cardiovascular health and the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Hence it is reasonable to review and summarize what has been learned concerning the effects of mindfulness training on cardiovascular health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Buddhist meditation for vascular function: A narrative review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6881634/?report=classic), Amarasekera and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies on the effects of meditation on vascular endothelial function and blood pressure. They found 5 published research reports.

 

They report that the research found that meditation practice increased mindfulness and decreased stress and blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic. They also found that meditation improved vascular endothelial function, including a reduction in vascular stiffness and an increase in flow mediated dilatation. These benefits occurred in both old and young individuals.

 

The findings of the research to date suggests that meditation practice produces significant improvements in vascular function. This is particularly important as today’s sedentary life styles are associated with increased blood pressure and impaired vascular function which in turn is associated with poorer health. It is likely that the ability of meditation practice to increase mindfulness and to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress are responsible for the cardiovascular improvements.

 

So, improve vascular function and blood pressure with meditation.

 

“it is not the stress in our life, but the reaction to stress that is so potentially harmful to our health, including cardiovascular health. Hence . . . meditation and relaxation techniques are extremely important and useful to minimize these unhealthy reactions to stress.” – Joon Sup Lee

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Amarasekera, A. T., & Chang, D. (2019). Buddhist meditation for vascular function: A narrative review. Integrative medicine research, 8(4), 252–256. doi:10.1016/j.imr.2019.11.002

 

Abstract

Background

High blood pressure represents an important risk factor for diseases related to cardiovascular system and is directly associated with high oxidative stress, inflammation and vascular endothelial dysfunction. Recently, there is promising data available to suggest that meditation-based low-cost and low-risk lifestyle modification strategies may provide beneficial effects on chronic inflammation, oxidative stress and maintenance of blood pressure, both in young and older adults. This review aims to summarize the evidence regarding the effectiveness of Buddhist meditation for vascular endothelial function and blood pressure.

Method

A search was conducted using Ovid MEDLINE, Scopus, CINAHL and PsycINFO for articles published from 1990 to 2018.

Results

Relevant articles (n = 407) were reviewed and 5 met selection criteria. Several lines of studies have provided compelling data showing that Buddhist meditation approach was effective in improving inflammation and vascular function (endothelial vasodilation and arterial stiffness) in both young and elderly cohorts. Particularly, Buddhist meditation approach has shown to be effective in reducing plasma inflammatory markers, increasing nitric oxide concentration and improving vascular endothelial function and glycemic control, which in turn can be favorable factors for demonstrated positive effects of Buddhist meditation on blood pressure and vascular function.

Conclusion

This paper presents brief overview of clinical outcomes of complementary therapeutic approach of Buddhist meditation in vascular function. In future, well-structured systematic reviews are essential to report specificity of Buddhist mindfulness-based approach on vascular function, blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6881634/?report=classic

 

Improve the Physical and Mental Health of Older Patients with Hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes with Meditation

Improve the Physical and Mental Health of Older Patients with Hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Though diabetes is a heterogenous disorder, with multiple clinical manifestations, its chronic complications occur due to vascular (endothelial) dysfunction. Mindfulness Meditation helps by improving the autonomic and endocrine regulation of vascular tone, thus leading to better cardiovascular health.” – Sanjay Kalra

 

Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States and nearly 600 million people worldwide have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type II Diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, hypertension, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. It is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths per year have high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.

 

Type 2 diabetes and hypertension are common and increasingly prevalent illnesses, especially in older individual. But they are treatable with medications and largely preventable with lifestyle changes. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetes and also in reducing hypertension. This suggests that there is a need for further research on the effects of meditation training for the treatment of hypertension and Type II diabetes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Brain education-based meditation for patients with hypertension and/or type 2 diabetes: A pilot randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6531095/), Lee and colleagues recruited older participants (57-87 years of age) with hypertension and/or Type 2 diabetes and were under medication. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either health education or meditation training twice a week for 8 weeks. Before and after training blood was drawn for biochemical, RNA, and c-DNA analysis and completed questionnaires on their mental and physical health.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and health education control group, after meditation training there were significant reductions in blood low-density lipoprotein (LDL), inflammatory gene expression, and levels of fatigue, and significant increases in mental health, including significant increases in relaxation, focus, happiness, and confidence, and significant decreases in anger and loneliness. These results suggest that meditation training is effective in treating older patients with hypertension and/or Type 2 diabetes who are already being treated with medication. Hence meditation practice supplements the benefits of medications.

 

The reductions in LDL cholesterol have been previously reported with mindfulness training and are very important as LDL cholesterol is a significant marker for cardiovascular disease. The reduction in inflammatory gene expression has also been previously reported and is very important as inflammation is a marker for a variety of disease conditions. In addition, the improvements in mental health have been previously reported and are significant as the elderly have higher levels of mental health difficulties than younger people.

 

It appears from these results that meditation training as a supplement to medication can be very beneficial for the mental and physical health of older patients suffering from hypertension and/or Type 2 diabetes. It would appear reasonable to recommend meditation training for these patients in addition to their medications.

 

So, improve the physical and mental health of older patients with hypertension and type 2 diabetes with meditation.

 

“Recent research showed meditation can also help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.” – Roberta Kleinman

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Lee, S. H., Hwang, S. M., Kang, D. H., & Yang, H. J. (). Brain education-based meditation for patients with hypertension and/or type 2 diabetes: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Medicine, 98(19), e15574. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000015574

 

Abstract

Background:

Hypertension and type 2 diabetes are chronic diseases, which generally require lifetime care. Meditation and yoga can be complementary to pharmacological therapies according to the scientific evidences so far. Brain education-based meditation (BEM) is a technique, which has been known to change brain structure, psychology, and physiology of healthy adult participants. This randomized, nonblinded pilot trial aimed to examine whether BEM affects the conditions of patients with hypertension and/or type 2 diabetes compared with health education classes.

Methods:

We randomly allocated 48 patients with hypertension and/or type 2 diabetes to BEM (n = 24) or health education (n = 24) classes in the Ulsan Junggu Public Health Center in Korea, where the classes were run during the same period and explored the impact of 8-week practice on the serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase, serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase, gamma glutamyl transpeptidase, creatinine, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Total RNA was extracted to examine inflammatory gene expressions from the whole blood using PAXgene blood RNA System. In addition, self-reports on mental/physical health were evaluated. The Student’s t test, chi-squared test, and analysis of covariance were used for statistical analysis.

Results:

The number of people who participated until the completion of the study was 14 in the control and 21 in the BEM group. After 8 weeks, LDL cholesterol level was significantly decreased in the BEM group after the intervention (13.82 mg/dL reduction, P < .05), while it was not significantly altered in the control group. The expression of inflammatory genes was significantly reduced after 8 weeks of the BEM training (0.3-, 0.5-, and 0.2-fold change for NFKB2, RELA, and IL1B, respectively, all P < .05). In the item analysis of mental/physical health self-reports, a significant improvement was confirmed as follows: increases in focus, confidence, relaxation, and happiness; decreases in fatigue, anger, and loneliness (all P < .05). There were no important adverse events or side-effects by BEM intervention.

Conclusion:

Compared to health education, BEM helps lower LDL cholesterol level and the inflammatory gene expression in the patients with hypertension and/or type 2 diabetes. Moreover, BEM induces positive effects on the self-reported mental/physical states, warranting further study.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6531095/

 

 

Decrease Hypertension with Yoga Practice

Decrease Hypertension with Yoga Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga, when performed mindfully, can reduce this type of stress-induced hypertension, while addressing its underlying causes. It pacifies the sympathetic nervous system and slows down the heart, while teaching the muscles and mind to relax deeply.” – Marla Apt

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control.

 

High blood pressure, because it doesn’t have any primary symptoms, is usually only diagnosed by direct measurement of blood pressure usually by a health care professional. When hypertension is chronically present over three quarters of patients are treated with antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely.

 

Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. Exercise is also known to help. So, yoga practice, which combines mindfulness practice with exercise would seem to be a good candidate practice for the treatment of hypertension. Indeed, yoga practice appears to lower blood pressure in hypertension. But yoga practices can contain a number of components including meditation, breathing exercises, postures, chanting, and mantras. It is not known, whether the postures included in the practice are necessary for the beneficial effects of yoga practice on hypertension.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga in Arterial Hypertension.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6375068/ ), Cramer and colleagues recruited adult patients with primary arterial hypertension receiving antihypertensive medication. They were randomly assigned to receive either yoga training that either included postures or without postures, or a wait-list control condition. The yoga practice consisted of 90 minutes, once a week, for 12 weeks of meditation, relaxation techniques, and postures for the yoga with postures group. The participants were encouraged and provided materials to practice daily at home. They were measured before and after training and 26 weeks later for systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

 

They found that at the end of training the yoga group without postures had a greater reduction in systolic blood pressure than either the control group or the group with yoga postures. But, at follow-up, 26 weeks later, the yoga group that included postures had a greater reduction in systolic blood pressure than either the control group or the group without yoga postures. Diastolic blood pressure was not affected. It should be noted that these benefits were obtained in patients taking antihypertensive medications. So, the yoga practice benefits supplemented those of the drugs.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that on the short-term yoga practice without postures is best for blood pressure reduction in patients with hypertension while for the long-term yoga with postures is best. The relaxation produced by practicing meditation and relaxation may have the immediate consequence of decreasing blood pressure but doesn’t appear to be sustained while the exercise involved in postures, like occurs with other aerobic exercises, may have more long-term benefits for the cardiovascular system.

 

These benefits are important as reducing blood pressure in patients with hypertension is important for their health, longevity, and well-being. Yoga appears to be a safe, effective, and relatively inexpensive treatment. In addition, yoga practice has psychological and social benefits that can help to maintain practice over the long-term.

 

So, decrease hypertension with yoga practice.

 

“Yoga, along with deep breathing exercises, meditation and inner reflection, is a good adjunctive and integrative cardiovascular approach to better health, including lowering blood pressure, as this data suggests,” – David Friedman

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Cramer, H., Sellin, C., Schumann, D., & Dobos, G. (2018). Yoga in Arterial Hypertension. Deutsches Arzteblatt international, 115(50), 833-839. DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2018.0833

 

Abstract

Background

Yoga seems to exert its effect against arterial hypertension mainly through the associated breathing and meditation techniques, and less so through yoga postures. The goal of this trial was to compare the blood pressure–lowering effect of yoga interventions with and without yoga postures in patients with arterial hypertension.

Methods

75 patients taking medications for arterial hypertension (72% women, mean age 58.7 ± 9.5 years) were randomized into three groups: a yoga intervention group with yoga postures (25 patients, of whom 5 dropped out of the trial before its end), a yoga intervention group without yoga postures (25 patients, 3 dropouts), and a wait list control group (25 patients, one dropout). The interventions consisted of 90 minutes of yoga practice per week for twelve weeks. The data collectors, who were blinded to the intervention received, assessed the primary outcome measures “systolic 24-hour blood pressure” and “diastolic 24-hour blood pressure” before and after the intervention. In this report, we also present the findings on secondary outcome measures, including follow-up data.

Results

After the intervention, the systolic 24-hour blood pressure in the yoga intervention group without yoga postures was significantly lower than in the control group (group difference [?]= -3.8 mmHg; [95% confidence interval (CI): (-0.3; -7.4) p = 0.035]); it was also significantly lower than in the yoga intervention group with yoga postures (? = -3.2 mmHg; 95% CI: [-6.3; -0.8]; p = 0.045). Diastolic blood pressures did not differ significantly across groups. No serious adverse events were encountered in the course of the trial.

Conclusion

In accordance with the findings of earlier studies, we found that only yoga without yoga postures induced a short-term lowering of ambulatory systolic blood pressure. Yoga is safe and effective in patients taking medications for arterial hypertension and thus can be recommended as an additional treatment option for persons in this category.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6375068/

 

Lower High Blood Pressure with Yoga

Lower High Blood Pressure with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga can reduce stress-induced hypertension, while addressing its underlying causes. It pacifies the sympathetic nervous system and slows down the heart, while teaching the muscles and mind to relax deeply.” – Marla Apt

 

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is an insidious disease because there are no overt symptoms. The individual feels fine. But it can be deadly as more than 360,000 American deaths, roughly 1,000 deaths each day, had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. In addition, hypertension markedly increases the risk heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.  It is also a very common disorder with about 70 million American adults (29%) having high blood pressure and only about half (52%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control.

 

High blood pressure, because it doesn’t have any primary symptoms, is usually only diagnosed by direct measurement of blood pressure usually by a health care professional. When hypertension is chronically present over three quarters of patients are treated with antihypertensive drugs. But these medications often have adverse side effects. So, patients feel lousy when taking the drugs, but fine when they’re not. So, compliance is a major issue with many patients not taking the drugs regularly or stopping entirely. Obviously, there is a need for alternative to drug treatments for hypertension. Mindfulness practices have been shown to aid in controlling hypertension. Exercise is also known to help. So, yoga practice, which combines mindfulness practice with exercise would seem to be a good candidate practice for the treatment of hypertension,

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of 1-week yoga-based residential program on cardiovascular variables of hypertensive patients: A Comparative Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: http://www.ijoy.org.in/article.asp?issn=0973-6131;year=2018;volume=11;issue=2;spage=170;epage=174;aulast=Metri ), Metri and colleagues recruited adults (aged 30-60 years) with hypertension; half of which participated in a 1-week Integrative Yoga Therapy program, while half were on antihypertensive medications. The Integrative Yoga Therapy program included poses, breathing exercises, meditation, and relaxation. They were measured before, during, and after treatment for heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac output, cardiac stroke volume, total peripheral vascular resistance, and baroreflex sensitivity.

 

They found that compared to baseline and the group on antihypertensive medications after the 1-week Integrative Yoga Therapy program there were significant decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, Total peripheral vascular resistance, and baroreflex sensitivity. Hence, one week of Yoga Therapy appears to be a safe and effective treatment for hypertension.

 

It should be kept in mind that the control condition was not an active control. Thus, it is possible that any activity might have produced comparable benefits. In future research that Yoga Therapy program needs to be compared to other activities such as aerobic exercise. In addition, it is not known which components of Yoga Therapy or which combinations of components were needed to produce the benefits. Future research should perform a component analysis to determine whether poses, breathing exercises, meditation, and/or relaxation were necessary for the effects. But, it is clear that participation in a 1-week program of Integrative Yoga Therapy can improve hypertension.

 

So, lower high blood pressure with yoga.

 

“People who follow the ancient practice of yoga may be getting an added health boost, with a new study suggesting it can fight high blood pressure — also known as hypertension.” – Robert Preidt

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Metri KG, Pradhan B, Singh A, Nagendra H R. Effect of 1-week yoga-based residential program on cardiovascular variables of hypertensive patients: A Comparative Study. Int J Yoga 2018;11:170-4

 

Introduction: Hypertension (HTN) is an important public health concern and a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Yoga is a form of mind–body medicine shown to be effective in controlling blood pressure (BP) and reduces cardiac risk factors in HTN. Integrated approach of Yoga therapy (IAYT) is a residential yoga-based lifestyle intervention proven to be beneficial in several health conditions. Aim: To study the efficacy of 1 week of residential IAYT intervention on cardiovascular parameters in hypertensive patients. Methodology: Twenty hypertensive individuals (7 females) within age range between 30 and 60 years (average; 46.62 ± 9.9 years), who underwent 1 week of IAYT treatment for HTN, were compared with age- gender-matched non-IAYT group (5 females; average age; 47.08 ± 9.69 years) in terms of systolic BP (SBP), diastolic BP (DBP), mean arterial pressure (MAP), cardiac output (CO), stroke volume (SV), baroreflex sensitivity (BRS), and total peripheral vascular resistance (TPVR), IAYT program consisted of sessions of asanas, breathing practices, meditation and relaxation techniques, low salt, low-calorie diet, devotional session, and counseling. Individuals in non-IAYT group followed their normal routine. All the variables were assessed before and after one week. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 16. RM-ANOVA was applied to assess within group and between group changes after intervention. Results: There was a significant improvement in SBP (P = 0.004), DBP (P = 0.008), MAP (0.03), BRS (P < 0.001), and TPVR (P = 0.007) in IAYT, group whereas in control group, we did not find significant difference in any of the variables. Between-group comparison showed a significant improvement in SBP (P = 0.038), BRS (P = 0.034), and TPVR (P = 0.015) in IAYT group as compared to non-IAYT group. Conclusion: One-week IAYT intervention showed an improvement in baroreflex sensitivity, systolic BP, and total peripheral vascular resistance in hypertensive patients. However, further randomized control trials need to be performed to confirm the present findings.

http://www.ijoy.org.in/article.asp?issn=0973-6131;year=2018;volume=11;issue=2;spage=170;epage=174;aulast=Metri

Decrease Stroke Risk with Tai Chi or Qigong

Decrease Stroke Risk with Tai Chi or Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“One of the main issues that a stroke survivor experiences is a problem with balance. . .This is where tai chi can make a huge difference. With a complete focus on slow, controlled, and repetitive movements, tai chi is effective in improving one’s balance through dynamic motion and coordination”. Saebo

 

Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke and it is the third leading cause of death, killing around 140,000 Americans each year. A stroke results from an interruption of the blood supply to the brain, depriving it of needed oxygen and nutrients. This can result in the death of brain cells and depending on the extent of the damage produce profound loss of function. Strokes come in two varieties. The most common (87%) is ischemic stroke resulting from a blocked artery. But strokes can also occur due to leaking or rupture of a blood vessel in the brain, known as hemorrhagic stroke.

 

There are a number of risk factors for stroke that are unchangeable, such as family history, age, and genes. But there are a very large number of factors that are under our control including high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, poor diet, sedentariness, and obesity. Given this list it is clear that basic physical fitness and exercise would be excellent for stroke prevention. The ancient mindful movement technique Tai Chi is a very safe form of gentle exercise that appears to be beneficial for stroke victims.

 

In today’s Research News article “Efficacy of Tai Chi and qigong for the prevention of stroke and stroke risk factors: A systematic review with meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5690748/ ),

Lauche and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effects of Tai Chi or Qigong practice on risk factors for Stroke. They did not find any trials that reported actual incidence of stroke, but found 21 research controlled trials that reported on risk factors for stroke, including hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, diabetes, overweight or obesity, or metabolic syndrome.

 

They found that the published research reported that Tai Chi or Qigong practice produced significant improvement in hypertension including reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The studies also reported significant improvements in hyperlipidaemia, including lower levels of triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol, and higher levels of HDL cholesterol and in diabetes including fasting blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity. Tai Chi or Qigong practice was also found to improve the body weight index in overweight and obese individuals. No adverse events were reported in any of the trials.

 

These results are remarkable in the breadth and extent of the effects of Tai Chi or Qigong practice on risk factors for stroke. Although there were no direct measures of stroke incidence the reductions in risk factors would predict a reduction, over the long-term of the likelihood and incidence of stroke. Lauche and colleagues, however, caution that the trials tended to be of low quality with considerable risk of bias. Hence, conclusions need to be tempered and the results needs to be confirmed with more highly controlled trials.

 

The review found evidence that Tai Chi or Qigong practices are safe, with no negative effects or adverse reactions. In addition, they can be implemented to large numbers of individuals at relatively low cost, can be conveniently practiced at home or in a clinic, and can be practiced alone or in groups. Also, since the practice is gentle and safe it can be used with frail, sickly or elderly individuals. Hence, Tai Chi or Qigong practice appears to be an excellent treatment for the reduction of the risk for stroke in vulnerable individuals.

 

So, decrease stroke risk with Tai Chi or Qigong.

 

“The main physical benefits of Tai Chi are better balance, improved strength, flexibility and aerobic endurance. Psycho-social benefits include less depression, anxiety and stress, and better quality of life.” – Ruth E. Taylor-Piliae

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Lauche, R., Peng, W., Ferguson, C., Cramer, H., Frawley, J., Adams, J., & Sibbritt, D. (2017). Efficacy of Tai Chi and qigong for the prevention of stroke and stroke risk factors: A systematic review with meta-analysis. Medicine, 96(45), e8517. http://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000008517

 

Abstract

Background:

This review aims to summarize the evidence of Tai Chi and qigong interventions for the primary prevention of stroke, including the effects on populations with major stroke risk factors.

Methods:

A systematic literature search was conducted on January 16, 2017 using the PubMed, Scopus, Cochrane Library, and CINAHL databases. Randomized controlled trials examining the efficacy of Tai Chi or qigong for stroke prevention and stroke risk factors were included. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool.

Results:

Twenty-one trials with n = 1604 patients with hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, diabetes, overweight or obesity, or metabolic syndrome were included. No trials were found that examined the effects of Tai Chi/qigong on stroke incidence. Meta-analyses revealed significant, but not robust, benefits of Tai Chi/qigong over no interventions for hypertension (systolic blood pressure: −15.55 mm Hg (95% CI: −21.16; −9.95); diastolic blood pressure: −10.66 mm Hg (95% CI: −14.90, −6.43); the homeostatic model assessment (HOMA) index (−2.86%; 95% CI: −5.35, −0.38) and fasting blood glucose (−9.6 mg/dL; 95% CI: −17.28, −1.91), and for the body mass index compared with exercise controls (−1.65 kg/m2; 95% CI: −3.11, −0.20). Risk of bias was unclear or high for the majority of trials and domains, and heterogeneity between trials was high. Only 6 trials adequately reported safety. No recommendation for the use of Tai Chi/qigong for the prevention of stroke can be given.

Conclusion:

Although Tai Chi and qigong show some potential more robust studies are required to provide conclusive evidence on the efficacy and safety of Tai Chi and qigong for reducing major stroke risk factors.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5690748/