A doctor measures the blood pressure of a man. It may be good for your peace of mind and flexibility. But yoga and mindfulness meditation doesn’t lower blood pressure

A doctor measures the blood pressure of a man. It may be good for your peace of mind and flexibility. But yoga and mindfulness meditation doesn’t lower blood pressure

Mindfulness therapy doesn’t lower blood pressure

A new study suggests that mindfulness therapy is not effective at lowering blood pressure. Toronto researchers found that people who learned and applied the technique did not end up with lower blood pressure readings than people who did not use the approach.

TORONTO — A new study suggests that mindfulness therapy is not effective at lowering blood pressure.

Toronto researchers found that people who learned and applied the technique did not end up with lower blood pressure readings than people who did not use the approach.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a program that helps people learn about their relationship with their thoughts, emotions, behaviours and sensations.

The technique, which involves deep-breathing techniques also used in yoga, has been shown to be effective in helping to control anxiety and cancer-related pain.

Senior author Dr. Sheldon Tobe says he was surprised mindfulness did not result in lower blood pressure, because cognitive behavioural therapy has been shown to be useful in hypertension.

In fact, studies of cognitive behavioural therapy suggest it lowers blood pressure on average as well as a single hypertension drug at a starting dose would do.

“That’s a good drop in blood pressure. And that kind of blood pressure drop will lead to a reduction in heart attack and stroke over time,” said Tobe, a nephrologist (kidney specialist) at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, a University of Toronto teaching hospital.

The study, by researchers from the University of Toronto and York University, was published recently in the American Journal of Hypertension.

Tobe admitted the research team expected mindfulness-based stress reduction, or MBSR, would be effective.

“It seemed very promising for us,” said Tobe, whose work is funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. “I was disappointed. I really thought it was going to work.”

In the trial, 101 adults in the early stages of a blood pressure problem were randomly assigned to either take the eight-week mindfulness program or not. In addition to attending weekly classes on MBSR, participants had to do homework — practise the technique out of class.

They also had to keep a log of their efforts.

Then, at 12 weeks after the start of the study, blood pressure readings from the participants were compared to their blood pressure from the start of the study. There were no differences between the two groups.

After the first round of the study, the group that hadn’t initially taken the course was taught the technique and their blood pressure levels were measured after 12 weeks.

That gave the researchers both before and after data, and gave them a larger pool of results to compare.

But there was still no difference, Tobe said. “As a stand-alone (treatment) for people who have high blood pressure, who are not yet on drug therapy, MBSR as a kind of … therapy was not effective at blood pressure lowering.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Glen Carritt organized a United We Roll Canada convoy around May 2019 that travelled in 2019. An independent review said he breached council code of conduct rules multiple times. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Former Innisfail town councillor breached code of conduct many times, says review

Consultants say 29 of 36 alleged breaches by Glen Carritt had merit

Members of the Red Deer RCMP downtown patrol monitor for drug activity and property crimes. (Advocate file photo).
Two peace officers are training to join Red Deer’s downtown police patrol unit

This “integrated” unit will be the first in Alberta

Students and staff at Gateway Christian School wore pink Wednesday in support of Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying initiative that was started in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Public Schools)
Students, central Alberta community celebrate Pink Shirt Day

Mayor of Sylvan Lake Sean McIntyre supports anti-bullying cause

City of Red Deer has nearly doubled its active COVID-19 case count since Feb. 10 and has 75.6 per cent of the Central zone’s active cases. (File photo)
Another new high: Red Deer hits 574 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports 13 new COVID-19 deaths, 430 new cases

A homeless shelter was promised Red Deer to help the city deal with downtown issues. The city and province finally released a signed agreement on what the facility will offer, a year after a $7 million commitment was made for the project by the province. (Advocate file photo).
City and province take next step in bringing a 24/7 shelter to Red Deer

It will include a detox and counselling services

Meteor spotted over Edmonton, Alta., on Feb. 22, 2021 by several, who took to social media to share their surveillance camera captures. (@KixxAxe/Twitter)
VIDEO: Fireball meteor streaks across sky, spotted by early-morning risers in Alberta, B.C.

Videos of the quick streak of light flashing across the sky before 6:30 a.m. MST

Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich (33) makes a save on Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) as Flames' Christopher Tanev (8) and Joakim Nordstrom (20) defend during first-period NHL action in Toronto on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson yells to her sweepers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

A crane is used to lift a vehicle following a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles. Woods suffered leg injuries in the one-car accident and was undergoing surgery, authorities and his manager said. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Golf without Woods? Battered leg brings it closer to reality

Golf without Woods? Battered leg brings it closer to reality

Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien looks towards the ice as his team takes on the Ottawa Senators during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadiens have fired head coach Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Montreal Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien, associate coach Kirk Muller

Montreal Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien, associate coach Kirk Muller

Canada midfielder Sophie Schmidt (13) attempts a shot on goal during the first half of a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match against Argentina, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Phelan M. Ebenhack
Canadian women exit SheBelieves Cup on losing note, blanked 2-0 by Brazil

Canadian women exit SheBelieves Cup on losing note, blanked 2-0 by Brazil

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta's COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney shakes hands with Jason Nixon, government house leader and environment minister, after Nixon is sworn into office in Edmonton on April 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta eyes recall legislation, focuses on COVID-19 aid in spring sitting

Alberta eyes recall legislation, focuses on COVID-19 aid in spring sitting

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie attends a a news conference in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, February 28, 2019. The CFL faces more challenges in its 2021 return than it did last year when it was forced to cancel its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
CFL will have to appease more levels of government to get 2021 protocols approved

CFL will have to appease more levels of government to get 2021 protocols approved

Most Read