Regular yoga may help lower blood pressure

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Screen Shot 2016-12-12 at 10.15.41 AM Hypertension is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and is defined as a systolic blood pressure of 140 millimetres of mercury per gram (mmHg) or higher, and/or diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or higher. But according to a small new study, people with prehypertension who practiced yoga for an hour a day for three months lowered both their average diastolic and arterial pressure. Led by Dr Ashutosh Angrish, researchers investigated the impact of hatha yoga, which combines stretching poses, controlled breathing and meditation, on blood pressure in 60 patients with prehypertension who were otherwise healthy. They recruited 60 such patients, average age 54, and prescribed all of them lifestyle strategies for lowering blood pressure. These included moderate aerobic exercise, a healthy diet, and quitting smoking. Half of those patients also received a month of daily yoga lessons, taught by an instructor. After the first month, this group was told to practice on their own for an hour a day. At the beginning and end of the three-month study period, participants had their blood pressure measured over a 24-hour period. During that time, there were no changes in the group that was assigned lifestyle changes only. In the yoga group, however, both 24-hour diastolic blood pressure and night time diastolic blood pressure decreased by approximately 4.5 mmHg. Average arterial pressure decreased as well, by about 4.9 mmHg. "Although the reduction in blood pressure was modest, it could be clinically very meaningful because even a 2 mmHg decrease in diastolic BP has the potential to decrease the risk of coronary heart disease by 6 per cent and the risk of stroke and transient ischaemic attack by 15 per cent,” said Dr Angrish. The study findings should be considered preliminary. Even so, the study authors say there’s little reason not to advise people worried about their blood pressure to start a daily yoga practice. “It may prevent the development of hypertension,” added Dr Angrish. “And in addition give a sense of wellbeing.” © Cover Media

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