Regarding the guidelines of the American Heart Association 2013 on the treatment of hypertension, meditation constitutes a „level of evidence B“, which means that “it may be considered as a therapeutic strategy for (pre)hypertensive patients”. In order to prove this, however, further research is required. The American Heart Association's conclusion along with other case-studies listed in the bibliography, reflect the growing interest in meditation as an easy and affordable technique with few side effects.
Design and method:
Here, we studied 113 publications related to meditation and it's effect upon arterial hypertension. Firstly, research reveales that stress plays an important role in the development of essential hypertension. Therefore, stress-relief is directly linked to lower blood pressure. Stress-reducing effects of mediation were demonstrated in studies by measuring levels of stress hormones, skin resistance, heart rate variability and EEG. Patients reactions to stressful situations also showed improvements after the implementation of meditation as a coping strategy due to a decrease in blood pressure as response to stress tests. Thus, stress-reducing effects of meditation have been argued to play an important role in treatment of hypertension. In addition, it has been claimed that both, decreased sympathetic tone and changes in hormone levels, could lead to blood pressure lowering effects.
On the one hand, published data of numerous studies show a significant reduction of blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and hypertensive patients through meditation. On the other hand, the majority of studies suffered from small patient numbers, poor study design and insufficient statistical analyses. Moreover, some of the results were inconsistent and, in some cases, even contradictory. Interestingly, descriptions of side effects of meditative practices were also found. We shall present a complete review of the available literature.
In conclusion, the effectiveness and safety of meditation as a sole therapeutic measure to lower blood pressure in (pre)hypertensive patients could not be proven at this point as distinct from the recommendations of the AHA. However, mediation could be accepted as a component of life-style modifications suggested like physical exercise, weight loss, reduction of sodium absorption and, if necessary, additional medication.