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Alternative therapies offer benefits for treating high blood pressure, but traditional methods are best

April 26, 2013

Managing your blood pressure is a key component of healthy aging, and there are many ways to go about doing so. Yet, while new research from the American Heart Association suggests that alternative methods such as yoga, meditation and slow breathing can have a positive effect, nothing beats the traditional routes including physical activity and eating a low sodium diet, according to findings published in journal Hypertension.

The results are based on an extensive review of 1,000 studies published between 2006 and 2011, which investigated the benefits of a wide range of interventions including behavioral therapies, non-invasive procedures as well as numerous types of physical exercises. Researchers determined that all kind of exercises offer benefits, but walking programs had the most significant impact on blood pressure. Experts say while alternative therapies alone may not be enough, they could be a good complement to the more traditional methods.

"A common request from patients is, 'I don't like to take medications, what can I do to lower my blood pressure?' said Dr. Robert D. Brook, an associated professor of medicine at the University of Michigan.  We wanted to provide some direction."

A large number of older adults may be able to make use of these findings. According to the National Institutes of Health, as many as half of people 60 and older have high blood pressure.