-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- 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.
"This study confirms many people's feelings that exercise may be useful in the control of hypertension," said Dr. Howard Weintraub, a cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. Weintraub was not connected to the new study.
Based on the new findings, "yoga would be a useful adjunct in
the lowering of blood pressure in certain populations," he
In the study, researchers led by Dr. Debbie Cohen of the
University of Pennsylvania tracked 58 women and men, aged 38 to 62,
for six months.
Although the study couldn't prove a cause-and-effect
relationship, doing yoga two to three times a week was associated
with an average drop in blood pressure readings from 133/80 to
130/77, the researchers said.
In comparison, the average decrease in blood pressure was
smaller (134/83 to 132/82) among people who ate a special diet but
did not do yoga.
In a bit of a surprise, doing yoga in tandem with a special diet
did not outperform doing yoga alone -- blood pressure numbers fell
only slightly (135/83 to 134/81) among people who ate a special
diet and also did yoga, the researchers said.
The small decline in blood pressure among people who ate a
special diet and did yoga may be because doing both required a
greater amount of time, making it more difficult for participants
to stick with their regimens, the authors said.
Weintraub said the study shows that "yoga can have a favorable
effect" on hypertension. Although the amount of change was small,
he said, "some large population studies have suggested that changes
of this magnitude could have very significant long-term
The study did have some limitations, including its relatively
short length and the fact that most participants were young and had
milder forms of high blood pressure, Weintraub said.
Another expert agreed that the ancient Indian practice of yoga
might ease hypertension.
"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," said Dr. David Friedman, chief of Heart Failure Services at the North Shore-LIJ Plainview Hospital, in Plainview, N.Y.
"In addition to proper diet and aerobic physical fitness most days of the week, I recommend that my patients take time each day for the above measures of finding disciplined inner peace, for improved health and well-being," he said.
The findings were presented Wednesday at the annual scientific
meeting of the American Society of Hypertension, in San Francisco.
Findings presented at medical meetings typically are considered
preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
high blood pressure.
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