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Can alternative therapies play a part in tackling high blood pressure?
However interested we are in healthy living, most of us know that having blood pressure that is too high is dangerous.
According to the American Heart Association, when it comes to stroke and heart attack, high blood pressure is one of the major risk factors.
Yet globally, it impacts over 26 per cent of us and plays a part in over 13 per cent of deaths that come prematurely.
The Association recently stated that alternative therapies like isometric hand grip exercises and aerobic exercise might be able to help in bringing people's blood pressure down.
Via a scientific statement in 'Hypertension', its journal, it said alternative therapies could offer help to those whose blood pressure is above 120/80 Hg as well as those that do not react well or are unable to tolerate standard medications.
But these should not be used to replace ways of lowering blood pressure that are proven, according to the Association.
Here are some things that the heart association says are proven to bring down blood pressure.
♦ Managing your weight
♦ Doing physical activity
♦ Not drinking too much
♦ Avoiding smoking
♦ Taking the right medicines if you are prescribed these.
♦ Having a diet that is balanced and does not contain too much sodium.
Experts looked into three categories of alternative remedy, which were behaviour therapies, exercise regimes and devices or un-invasive procedures.
The ones they looked at rarely led to side effects of a serious nature and did not pose many risks to health.
The experts found that some of the therapies created more benefit compared to others. These could form a part of a treatment plan to lower blood pressure.
It was found that the three varieties of exercise looked at - isometric exercises, aerobic exercise and weight or resistance training - could bring down blood pressure.
A modest benefit was seen from walking programmes, and among the best improvements were seen after people used isometric hand grip exercises for four weeks.
This was followed by a fall of ten per cent in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure.
The Association warns that isometric exercise ought not to be done by those whose blood pressure is 180/110 mm Hg or above.
It was found that transcendental meditation might be able to play a part in lowering blood pressure a little. Insufficient data is available that supports the benefit of other meditation varieties in this area, the Association reports.
Slow breathing, when device-guided, was proved to be effective when it comes to bringing blood pressure down if it was done three or four times weekly for 15 minutes a time.
The chair of the expert panel involved in this research was Robert D Brook from the University of Michigan.
"Most alternative approaches reduce systolic blood pressure by only 2-10 mm Hg; whereas standard doses of a blood pressure-lowering drug reduce systolic blood pressure by about 10-15 mm Hg," he commented.
"So, alternative approaches can be added to a treatment regimen after patients discuss their goals with their doctors."