Meditation Can Lower Blood Pressure in Hypertensive CKD Patients

ATLANTA—Mindfulness meditation may reduce blood pressure (BP) in hypertensive patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), researchers reported at the American Society of Nephrology's Kidney Week 2013 meeting.

The researchers, led by Jeanie Park, MD, of Emory University School of Medicine here, explained in a poster presentation that CKD is characterized by chronic sympathetic nervous system (SNS) overactivity that contributes to hypertension and mortality. Previous studies have demonstrated that mindfulness meditation lowers BP and heart rate in hypertensive patients.

Dr. Park's group studied 13 patients with CKD Stage 3 and hypertension. They measured continuous arterial BP, heart rate via continuous electrocardiography, respiratory rate, and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) using microneurography, at baseline and during 14 minutes of guided mindfulness meditation during one study visit and 14 minutes of BP education (control condition) during a second study visit.

The rate of change in systolic BP, diastolic BP, mean arterial pressure, and MSNA was significantly greater over time during mindfulness meditation compared with the control condition. At the 14-minute time point, the investigators found a significantly greater reduction in systolic BP (-10.2 vs.-0.8 mm Hg), diastolic BP (-6.4 vs. -1.8 mm Hg), and MAP (-7.7 vs. -1.4 mm Hg) during mindfulness meditation versus the control condition, respectively. The researchers also observed a concomitant significantly greater reduction in MSNA during mindfulness meditation versus the control condition.

These data are the first to demonstrate that mindfulness meditation may lower BP in hypertensive patients with CKD, and the reduction in BP may be mediated by an acute reduction in sympathetic nervous system activity, the researchers concluded, adding that mindfulness meditation “may have real physiological effects on autonomic control, and may be a useful complementary therapy in CKD patients.”

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