Coherence: A Novel Nonpharmacological Modality for Lowering Blood Pressure in Hypertensive Patients
Abdullah A. Alabdulgader, D.C.H., M.R.C.P., A.B.P., F.R.C.P.
Global Advances in Health and Medicine 2012; 1(2):54-62; www.gahmj.com.
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This study examined the efficacy of teaching emotional self-regulation techniques supported by heart rhythm coherence training (emWave Personal Stress Reliever) as a means to quickly lower blood pressure (BP) in patients diagnosed with hypertension. Previous studies have demonstrated systemic reductions in BP in both high stress populations and patients diagnosed with hypertension using this approach, but to the best of our knowledge, an investigation of their ability to produce immediate reductions in BP had not been published in the medical literature.
The study was a randomized controlled design with 62 hypertensive participants who were divided into three groups. Group 1 was taking hypertensive medication, was taught self-regulation technique, and used heart rate variability coherence (HRVC) training devices. Group 2 was not yet taking medication and was trained in the same intervention. Group 3 was taking hypertensive medication but did not receive the intervention and was instructed to relax between the BP assessments.
An analysis of covariates was conducted to compare the effectiveness of three different interventions on reducing the participants’ BP. The use of the self-regulation technique and the HRVC-monitoring device was associated with a significantly greater reduction in mean arterial pressure in the two groups who used the intervention as compared with the relaxation-plus-medication group. Additionally, the group not taking medication that used the intervention also had a significantly greater reduction in systolic BP than the relaxation- plus-medication group.
These results suggest that selfregulation techniques that incorporate the intentional generation of positive emotions to facilitate a shift into the psychophysiological coherence state are an effective approach to lowering BP. This approach to reducing BP should be considered a simple and effective approach that can easily be taught to patients to quickly lower their BP in stressful situations. The technique should be especially useful when hypertensive patients are experiencing stressful emotions or reactions to stressors. It is possible that the BP reductions associated with the use of the technique leads to a change in the physiological set-point for homeostatic regulation of BP. Further studies should examine if large scale implementations of such heart-based coherence techniques could have a significant impact on reducing risk of mortality and morbidity in hypertensive patients.