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Guidelines Recommend Meditation as a Strategy to Lower Stress-Related Blood Pressure


New guidelines recommend that individuals aim to engage in approximately 45 minutes of daily meditation to effectively reduce stress-related high blood pressure. The International Society of Hypertension suggests several other strategies, including listening to music, practicing yoga, and embracing mindfulness, as part of a holistic approach to blood pressure management. Traditional medical advice, such as quitting smoking and reducing salt intake, remains important. However, experts now endorse additional "body and mind" lifestyle objectives.

The position paper, published in the Journal of Hypertension, asserts that there is sufficient scientific evidence to support these less conventional approaches. One of the authors, Professor Bryan Williams, a renowned UK blood pressure expert, emphasized in an interview with the BBC that while these methods may seem gentle compared to pharmaceutical interventions, they significantly contribute to mitigating the cardiovascular effects of stress. Williams encourages individuals to allocate time for self-care, whether through music, walking, or exercise.

High blood pressure is a significant contributor to premature mortality, straining the heart and blood vessels and increasing the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Globally, more than a billion people, or one in four adults, suffer from high blood pressure.

The expert panel, comprising members from 18 countries, recommends the following strategies:

  1. Daily stress reduction techniques: Incorporate practices like meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and mindfulness into your routine.
  2. Gratitude and kindness: Focus on positive aspects in your life and engage in acts of kindness to enhance your sense of well-being.
  3. Calming music: Spend at least 25 minutes, three times a week, listening to soothing music to alleviate stress.
  4. Physical activity and sleep: Maintain an active lifestyle and prioritize quality sleep, aiming for approximately seven hours of restorative sleep per night. Fitness gadgets and apps can help track progress.

Professor Williams underscores the importance of both sleep duration and quality in stress management. Achieving sufficient, high-quality sleep is essential to counteract the negative effects of stress and decompress effectively.