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Research shows significant drop in blood pressure soon after learning Transcendental Meditation

Ask the Doctors    Translate This Article
26 June 2011

Neurologist Gary Kaplan, MD, PhD* and researcher Vernon Barnes, PhD** discuss the role of the Transcendental Meditation Technique in reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. Their discussion is featured on the website Ask the Doctors.

This article, the second in a series, features Dr Barnes answering questions about hypertension and blood pressure.

Q: Why is the problem of hypertension such a serious health risk? 

Dr. Barnes:
In studying the world's population, 26.4% of the adult population are projected to have hypertension by 2025, which is a predicted increase of about 60% to a total of 1.56 billion. Therefore, hypertension is an important public-health challenge worldwide, and prevention, detection, treatment, and control of this condition is of high priority.

It's an enticing concept that a blood pressure-reducing intervention such as the Transcendental Meditation technique, if used widely by the general population, could potentially have an enormous impact on public health. Although long-term studies will be needed to demonstrate the concept, the expectation is that even a small downward shift (i.e. a few mm Hg, or points) in the distribution of blood pressure, if maintained throughout adulthood, could substantially reduce the risk of hypertension and related cardiovascular disease.

Q: How long is it necessary to practice Transcendental Meditation before you can see benefits on blood pressure? 

Dr. Barnes:
The benefits can be immediate, but since every person is different it is not possible to predict exactly how soon blood pressure will drop. In most cases, the research has shown that within 1-2 months there is a significant drop in blood pressure if it has been too high.

Q: Is there a time when the patient can stop with the medication? 

Dr. Barnes:
That should be decided by the individual patient's doctor according to certain criteria; when, for instance, the patient's blood pressure has reached normal levels on at least three consecutive occasions. Patients should not decide for themselves when to stop medication.

Q: How do you see this treatment developing in the future? 

Dr. Barnes:
There is a great potential for doctors to prescribe the Transcendental Meditation program to their patients, especially for those who are stressed or suffering from stress-related disorders. This technique has been viewed as having the highest potential to change clinical practice from the perspective of treatment.

Click here for more about Transcendental Meditation and blood pressure, including related research showing the effects of the technique in reducing stress, reducing blood pressure in different age groups and at-risk populations, and reducing atherosclerosis.

*Gary P. Kaplan, M.D., Ph.D., is a neurologist and Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology at Hofstra University School of Medicine. He is also a recipient of the Albert H. Douglas Award from the Medical Society of the State of New York for outstanding achievements as a clinical teacher interested in promoting and improving the medical education of physicians.

**Vernon Barnes, Ph.D., is a researcher at the Georgia Prevention Institute of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, which received $1.5 million from the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to study the effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on African American teens at risk for high blood pressure.

© Copyright 2011 American Association of Physicians Practicing the Transcendental Meditation Technique

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