Background: Professional health organizations are not currently recommending Tai Ji Quan alongside aerobic exercise to treat hypertension. We aimed to examine the efficacy of Tai Ji Quan as antihypertensive lifestyle therapy.
Methods: Tai Ji Quan interventions published in English and Chinese were included when they involved healthy adults, reported pre- and post-intervention blood pressure (BP), and had a non-exercise/non-diet control group. We systematically searched 11 electronic databases for studies published through July 31, 2018, yielding 31 qualifying controlled trials. We (1) evaluated the risk of bias and methodological study quality, (2) performed meta-regression analyses following random-effects assumptions, and (3) generated additive models representing the largest possible clinically relevant BP reductions.
Results: Participants (N = 3223) were middle-aged (56.6 ± 15.1 years of age) adults with prehypertension (systolic BP [SBP] = 136.9 ± 15.2 mm Hg, diastolic BP [DBP] = 83.4 ± 8.7 mm Hg). Tai Ji Quan was practiced 4.0 ± 1.4 sessions/week for 54.0 ± 10.6 min/session for 22.3 ± 20.2 weeks. Overall, Tai Ji Quan elicited significant reductions in SBP (d+ = -0.75; -11.3 mm Hg, 95%CI: -14.6 to -8.0) and DBP (d+ = -0.53; -4.8 mm Hg, 95%CI: -6.4 to -3.1) versus control (p < 0.001). Controlling for publication bias among samples with hypertension, Tai Ji Quan trials published in English elicited SBP reductions of 10.4 mm Hg and DBP reductions of 4.0 mm Hg, which was half the magnitude of trials published in Chinese (SBP reductions of 18.6 mm Hg and DBP reductions of 8.8 mm Hg).
Conclusion: Our results indicate that Tai Ji Quan is a viable antihypertensive lifestyle therapy that produces clinically meaningful BP reductions (i.e., 10.4 mm Hg and 4.0 mm Hg of SBP and DBP reductions, respectively) among individuals with hypertension. Such magnitude of BP reductions can lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease by up to 40%.
Keywords: Blood pressure; Complementary medicine; Exercise training; Hypertension.
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