Improve Hypertension and Hyperlipidemia in Older Adults with Tai Chi
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Tai Chi is not only a suitable exercise for elderly people with obesity, but it can also help to regulate BP, improve heart and lung function in these individuals, as well as reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases, helping to improve their quality of life.” – Sun Lei
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, Tai Chi practice has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
In today’s Research News article “A Randomized Trial of Tai Chi on Preventing Hypertension and Hyperlipidemia in Middle-Aged and Elderly Patients.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8160700/ ) Wen and colleagues recruited patients with hypertension and hyperlipidemia between the ages of 40-75 years. They were randomly assigned to practice for 6 weeks, 3 time per week, for 60 minutes either simplified Tai Chi (24 form Yang style) or a Wu Style Tai Chi (60 forms) that was designed for hypertension and hyperlipidemia. They also practiced at home for 30 minutes a day. They were measured before and after the interventions for body size, blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood lipids.
They found that the patients who practiced Wu Style Tai Chi in comparison to the simplified Tai Chi had significantly greater reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL Cholesterol and greater increases in HDL Cholesterol in comparison to baseline. In addition, a greater percentage of patients who practiced Wu Style Tai Chi discontinued antihypertensive drugs and showed clinically significant reductions in cardiovascular disease.
In the present study both forms of Tai Chi produced improvements in hypertension and hyperlipidemia as has been observed in previous research. But the present study demonstrated that Wu Style Tai Chi produces superior results. Wu Style is more complex and also emphasizes reverse abdominal breathing matched to the movements. It is believed that this increases circulation and may be responsible for the greater improvements. Regardless, Tai Chi is a safe and effective treatment for hypertension and hyperlipidemia in older adults.
So, improve hypertension and hyperlipidemia in older adults with Tai Chi.
“tai chi is a promising and safe exercise alternative for patients with coronary heart disease who are unable or unwilling to attend traditional CR, in particular for older people, women, and deconditioned individuals.” – Elena Salmoirago‐Blotcher
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Wen, J., & Su, M. (2021). A Randomized Trial of Tai Chi on Preventing Hypertension and Hyperlipidemia in Middle-Aged and Elderly Patients. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(10), 5480. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18105480
In our randomized controlled trial, we investigated whether Wu-style Tai Chi (Tai Chi combined with Daoyin) as a potential exercise prescription is more effective than simplified Tai Chi in the prevention and treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia in the middle-aged and elderly. We randomly assigned 66 patients with hypertension and hyperlipidemia to one of the two groups: the Wu-style Tai Chi group or the simplified Tai Chi group; the simplified Tai Chi group only exercised simplified Tai Chi three times a week for 6 weeks. The Wu-style Tai Chi group participated in 60 min of Wu-style Tai Chi three times a week for 6 weeks. Serum biochemical tests were conducted at baseline and at the end of the study. Measurements of blood pressure were performed at the same time. Primary outcomes were compared within and between groups at baseline and at 6 weeks. The participants in the Wu-style Tai Chi group performed, at 6 weeks, significantly better than baseline on all of the primary outcomes (p value ≤ 0.05). The results also show significant difference within the simplified Tai Chi group from baseline to 6 weeks in TCHO (mmol/L), SBP (mmHg), and LDL-C (mmol/L) (p value < 0.05). From baseline to 6 weeks, the Wu-style Tai Chi group had significant differences at more test indexes in serum and blood pressure than the simplified Tai Chi group. At 6 weeks, the Wu-style Tai Chi group had a significantly greater mean improvement in the SBP (mmHg) than did the simplified Tai Chi group (mean between-group difference, −5.80 (mmHg) [95% CI, −14.01 to 2.41]; p = 0.007). The results showed that, compared with simplified Tai Chi, Wu-style Tai Chi had a better effect on hypertension in the middle-aged and elderly. At 6 weeks in LDL-C (mmol/L), the Wu-style Tai Chi group had significantly greater improvement between the two groups (means between-group difference, −0.45 (mmol/L) [95% CI, −0.89 to −0.17]; p = 0.03). The results showed that Wu-style Tai Chi protected the cardiovascular system of the middle-aged and elderly in improving LDL-C (mmol/L), and was more significant than simplified Tai Chi. After 6 weeks of exercise, Wu-style Tai Chi could effectively improve hyperlipidemia and hypertension. The total effective rate of cardiovascular disease was 90.00%. There was significant difference in the treatment effect of hypertension and hyperlipidemia between the two groups during 6 weeks (p = 0.039), showing that, in a small population of middle-aged and elderly subjects, Wu style Tai Chi could be useful in managing important CV risk factors, such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia.