Objectives: To introduce research that presents scientific evidence regarding the effects of mantra and mindfulness meditation techniques and yoga on decreasing blood pressure (BP) in patients who have hypertension.
Methods: A literature search was performed to identify all studies published between 1946 and 2014 from periodicals indexed in Ovid Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, KoreaMed, and NDSL by using the following keywords: "hypertension," "blood pressure," "psychotherapy," "relaxation therapy," "meditation," "yoga," and "mind-body therapy." The Cochrane's Risk of Bias was applied to assess the internal validity of the randomized controlled trial studies. Thirteen studies were analyzed in this meta-analysis by using Review Manager 5.3.
Results: Among 510 possible studies, 13 met the selection criteria. Seven examined meditation, and six examined yoga. The meta-analysis indicated that meditation and yoga appeared to decrease both systolic and diastolic BP, which were within similar baseline ranges, and the reduction was statistically significant; however, some results showed little difference. After an in-depth analysis of those results, BP range and patient age were revealed as the factors that affected the different results in some reports. In particular, meditation played a noticeable role in decreasing the BP of subjects older than 60 years of age, whereas yoga seemed to contribute to the decrease of subjects aged less than 60 years.
Conclusions: While acknowledging the limitations of this research due to the differences in BP and the participants' ages, meditation and yoga are demonstrated to be effective alternatives to pharmacotherapy. Given that BP decreased with the use of meditation and yoga, and this effect varied in different age groups, scientifically measured outcomes indicate that these practices are safe alternatives in some cases.
Keywords: hypertension; meditation; meta-analysis; relaxation therapy; yoga.