Meditation smartphone application effects on prehypertensive adults' blood pressure: Dose-response feasibility trial

Health Psychol. 2018 Sep;37(9):850-860. doi: 10.1037/hea0000584. Epub 2018 Jul 16.


Objective: Essential hypertension (EH) is the most common chronic disease in the United States and a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Lifestyle interventions (e.g., diet, exercise, stress management) to reduce blood pressure (BP) are often complex with varying effectiveness. Breathing awareness meditation (BAM) is a stress management strategy with encouraging effects on BP, though widespread dissemination is hampered by the lack of an easy-to-use methodology to train and monitor BAM practices. A smartphone application (Tension Tamer [TT]) that implements BAM and tracks adherence has shown promise in addressing these gaps. This 6-month dose-response feasibility trial evaluated effects of the app on BP to further optimize BAM user guidelines.

Methods: Sixty-four adults with prehypertension were randomized to complete TT-guided BAM sessions for 5-, 10-, or 15-min intervals twice daily over 6 months. Continuous heart rate readings derived from the phone's video camera via reflective photoplethysmography were used as feedback and as an index of time-stamped adherence. Outcomes (resting BP, HR) were collected at baseline, 1-, 3-, and 6-months.

Results: Mixed modeling results showed a significant time effect for systolic BP (SBP) with a dose-response effect at Months 3 and 6. Adherence declined over time and was lowest in the 15-min dose condition, though SBP reductions were maintained. Generally, adherence was negatively associated with dose as the study progressed.

Conclusions: Smartphone-implemented BAM appears to reduce SBP and can be a low-cost method to reach large populations. (PsycINFO Database Record

Trial registration: NCT03168789.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure Monitoring, Ambulatory / methods*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation / methods*
  • Prehypertension / physiopathology*
  • Smartphone / statistics & numerical data*

Associated data