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Acute Effects of Transcendental Meditation1 on Hemodynamic Functioning in Middle-Aged Adults

Barnes, Vernon A. PhD; Treiber, Frank A. PhD; Turner, J. Rick PhD; Davis, Harry MS; Strong, William B. MD

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Objective Increased peripheral vasoconstriction (ie, total peripheral resistance, or TPR) has been implicated as playing an important role in the early development of essential hypertension. Some studies have demonstrated that Transcendental Meditation (TM) reduces high blood pressure, but the hemodynamic adjustments behind these blood pressure reductions have not been elucidated. The aim of this study was to provide a preliminary investigation of the acute effects of TM on TPR.

Methods Subjects were 32 healthy adults (16 women and 16 men; 30 white and two African American; mean age, 46.4 +/- 3.9 years). Subjects were divided into a TM group of long-term TM practitioners (eight white women, nine white men, and one African American man; mean years of twice-daily TM practice, 22.4 +/- 6.7) and a control group (eight white women, five white men, and one African American man). Hemodynamic functioning was assessed immediately before and during three conditions: 20 minutes of rest with eyes open (all subjects), 20 minutes of TM (TM group), and 20 minutes of eyes-closed relaxation (control group).

Results During eyes-open rest, the TM group had decreases in systolic blood pressure (SBP) and TPR, compared with increases in the control group (SBP: -2.5 vs. +2.4 mm Hg, p < .01; TPR: -0.7 vs. +0.5 mm Hg/liter per minute, p < .004). During TM, there was a greater decrease in SBP due to a concomitantly greater decrease in TPR compared with the control group during eyes-closed relaxation (SBP: -3.0 vs. +2.1 mm Hg, p < .04; TPR: -1.0 vs. +0.3 mm Hg/liter per minute, p < .03).

Conclusions TPR decreased significantly during TM. Decreases in vasoconstrictive tone during TM may be the hemodynamic mechanism responsible for reduction of high blood pressure over time. The results of this study provide a preliminary contribution to the understanding of the underlying hemodynamic mechanisms responsible for the beneficial influence of TM on cardiovascular risk factors.

From the Georgia Institute for Prevention of Human Diseases and Accidents (V.A.B., F.A.T., W.B.S.), Department of Pediatrics (F.A.T., W.B.S.), Department of Psychiatry (F.A.T), and Office of Biostatistics (H.D.), Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA; and Quintiles, Inc., Chapel Hill, NC (J.R.T.).

Address reprint requests to: Vernon A. Barnes, PhD, Georgia Prevention Institute, Bldg. HS1640, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA 30912.

Received for publication August 28, 1998; revision received February 17, 1999.

sup 1 Transcendental Meditation[registered sign][trade mark sign] are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as servicemark of Maharishi Foundation, Ltd., and are used under license.

Copyright © 1999 by American Psychosomatic Society
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