July 15, 2020

Is meditation good for high blood pressure?

Blood pressure and hypertension

Blood pressure is the pressure of circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels and arteries. High blood pressure (HBP) means the pressure in your arteries is higher than it should be.

Blood pressure is written as two numbers, such as 110/75 mm Hg. The top (systolic) number is the pressure when the heart beats. The bottom (diastolic) number is the pressure when the heart rests between beats. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg. If you’re an adult and your systolic pressure is 120 to 129, and your diastolic pressure is less than 80, you have elevated blood pressure. High blood pressure is a systolic pressure of 130 or higher, or a diastolic pressure of 80 or higher, that stays high over time.

You could have high blood pressure (hypertension) for years without experiencing any symptoms, that’s why it’s so dangerous. Uncontrolled hypertension increases your risk of serious health problems such as heart attack and stroke. Blood pressure can become elevated due to a number of factors described below

Risk Factors 

There are many factors that may contribute to you having high blood pressure:

  • Age. People over 65 tend to develop high blood pressure
  • Genetics/family history
  • Lifestyle and diet. Being overweight or obese, lack of exercise, too much sodium in your diet- all these will cause high blood pressure
  • Smoking tobacco, alcohol abuse, or drug abuse
  • Stress 
  • Some chronic conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes,  or sleep apnea.

How meditation can help

Meditation has been closely studied for the past several years. What did it become such a popular topic of research? Because it has profound benefits on our physical and mental health. By sitting or lying down comfortably and concentrating on one thing (breath or mantra),  meditation brings us to the present moment, to the here and now. It helps to change the activity of our brain: it decreases activity in the default mode network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – a.k.a., “monkey mind.” Mind wondering is associated with worrying, ruminating, decreased happiness levels. 

Meditation  produces a very calming effect on the sympathetic nervous system. It reduces anxiety and increases activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, known as “rest and digest” system, consequently widening the blood vessels and decreasing blood pressure, reducing stress and even pain levels . 

Lifestyle changes necessary for regulating blood pressure

Regular meditation practice is not sufficient to maintain your blood pressure in check. I highly advise you to follow a healthy diet, limit your intake of sodium, and exercise on a daily bases.  Make sure you are getting enough sleep and good quality sleep. Avoid smoking, too much alcohol, and, of course, don’t do drugs. 

If you have serious health conditions and are currently on medications, speak with your doctor about adding meditation to your treatment regimen and see if you can slowly reduce the amount of medications you take. 

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