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Meditate or medicate? Teens and hypertension
by Dolores Wood
Yoga International Translate This Article
17 November 2004
On 17 November 2004 Yoga International reported:
The Transcendental Meditation Technique was used in clinical trials to test its effect on the blood pressure of African-American teenagers. The research showed that the regular practice of TM by the subjects resulted in a 20 per cent decrease in the risk of developing hypertension as an adult.
It is a joy for Global Good News service to feature this news, which indicates the success of the life-supporting programmes Maharishi has designed to bring
fulfilment to the field of health.
The study tested African-American teenagers because higher rates of hypertension, heart attack, and stroke are found in the adults of this group than in the general population. The study, entitled 'Impact of Transcendental Meditation on Ambulatory Blood Pressure in African-American Adolescents,' was published in the April 2004 issue of the American Journal of Hypertension.
The report quoted Dr. Treiber, co-author and principal investigator of the study as saying, 'This research is important, first off because it offers proof, empirical support, along with other research studies that meditation does help decrease blood pressure levels.'
156 subjects were chosen by the Medical College of Georgia research team from among 5,000 inner-city teenagers at five high schools in Augusta, Georgia. The study was carried out between 1999 and 2003. The students were monitored for ambulatory blood pressure, the most accurate measure available because it tests the individual throughout the day, every 20 to 30 minutes over a 24-hour period.
An average 3.5 point drop in blood pressure was shown in trial after trial of the four month segments in the four-year research project. This result increased to an average of 4 points in the follow-up at eight months. There was no change in the high blood pressure of students in control groups who were given the standard National Institute of Health sessions on exercise and nutrition for the same period.
'A blood pressure drop of four points doesn't seem like a whole lot, but it is clinically significant,' said Barnes, another researcher in the study. 'A blood pressure drop of one to two points in an adolescent translates into a 10 per cent decreased risk in developing hypertension as an adult.'
Hypertension is a major risk factor for developing heart attack or stroke, leading causes of death in the US. It begins in childhood and increases with age. Today high blood pressure is showing up at younger ages.
Statistics from the International Pediatrics Hypertension Association show that as much as 5-11 per cent of US children may have high blood pressure. The numbers continue to climb—in the last ten years the incidence of high blood pressure has risen sevenfold in the young minority population.
80 per cent of prescription drugs for hypertension in the US are not tested for effects on children, even though they are heavily prescribed for them. Health advocates express concern about the effect of these drugs on children. Alternative and complementary medicine are being examined to replace drugs, or work in tandem with drugs.
The article said that meditation is effective in reducing blood pressure because it decreases the sympathetic nervous system response to stress and slows the breathing and pulse rates. Thus meditation holds promise not only for reducing hypertension, but also for improving cardiovascular health in general.
The article also described a classroom study done by Tutt Middle School's science teacher, James Murzynowski, in his seventh graders' study of the heart, using another type of meditation, where blood pressure and breathing were also measured, and successful results were reported.
A brief side study of the first 40 students in the TM study showed behaviour improvement: reduced absenteeism, rule violations, and suspensions during the four-month segment of the clinical trial. Many teens also reported increased concentration in class, higher grades, better sports performance, and less anger. The participants also kept up the health-improvement practices after clinical research supervision was withdrawn.
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