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Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

 

Strike a Pose to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Monday, November 23rd, 2015
Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Kathrine Distel, PharmD Student Cedarville University School of Pharmacy

Hypertension or, as it is more commonly known, high blood pressure, is a chronic disorder that is becoming increasingly prevalent. It can be caused by a number of different factors, including a sedentary lifestyle, poor sleep habits, food choice and smoking. The most common treatment for high blood pressure is medication geared toward lowering blood pressure along with a suggestion to make some lifestyle changes. Unfortunately, those changes—namely diet and exercise—are unappealing at best to most people. Few people want to drastically alter their eating habits and rearrange their schedule so they can go to the gym every other day. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options that are emerging as effective ways to lower blood pressure without endlessly circling a track. One such option, yoga, has been in practice for many years.

Many people balk at the idea of doing yoga because it brings to mind impressive flexibility, leggings, and a room full of yoga mats. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Thanks to the internet, you can pick a yoga instructor who moves at your pace in the privacy of your living room, avoiding all of the unappealing aspects of the exercise. A study1 conducted in India, a country that has been practicing yoga for centuries, found that regular yoga combined with blood pressure medications can produce significant decreases in blood pressure.

Study participants were divided into two groups. The first group, the control, continued to take their blood pressure medications as they had been with no changes besides instructions to avoid smoking, alcohol and any medications that may interfere with the study. The second group, besides the same set of instructions, began practicing yoga with trained yoga therapists three times a week. The sessions were about 45 minutes long and included preparatory practices, static postures, pranayama—exercises that focus on breathing control—and relaxation techniques. Participants were also encouraged to practice what they had learned throughout the rest of the week. 1

The study lasted for 12 weeks and, while the control group had no significant changes from its original measurements, the group practicing yoga showed some interesting results. When compared with both their own original measurements and the end results of the control group, the group practicing yoga had a significant decrease of both components of blood pressure (p < 0.05)—systolic and diastolic pressures— as well as mean arterial pressure (MAP) (p < 0.001). MAP is influenced by several different components, including blood pressure, heart rate, how much blood the heart is pumping every minute, and how much resistance the blood vessels are offering to the heart. When these values are low, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard and risks such as heart attack and stroke are decreased.1

There were two main limitations to this study. The sample size—70 people split evenly between the two groups—was a small one. Additionally, the study only lasted 12 weeks which did not allow it to assess the long-term effects of yoga on high blood pressure. However, other studies2-7 have also found yoga to have positive effects on blood pressure. One systematic review6 of 32 articles found that yoga could lower blood pressure in both healthy and hypertensive patients. Another study5, a year-long study in Hong Kong consisting of 182 participants, found that regular yoga practice could lead to decreased blood pressure, resting heart rate and waist circumference.

When the exercises for these studies were designed, the instructors kept in mind the group they would be teaching. The exercises were geared toward beginners and seniors. One case study, 7 which used resources such as a DVD and a YouTube video, evaluated the effectiveness of a modified chair yoga. This program increased safety for participants with decreased mobility or balance while still effectively lowering blood pressure. Participants also reported decreased anxiety and joint pain.

Results of systematic reviews3,6,8 have been mixed on the effects of yoga. Many, but not all of the trials found positive effects on blood pressure, some of those results were statistically significant while others were not. With so many varying results, there is still more research that needs to be done to determine a true measure of the effect of yoga on blood pressure.It is important to note that, because research into the effects of yoga on blood pressure is still relatively new, this practice has not yet been shown be effective in replacing blood pressure medications. Rather, it works well in conjunction with those medications.

So if your doctor has recommended a lifestyle change to aid in controlling your blood pressure, yoga may be a great place for you to begin. There are many free resources available, ranging from DVDs at the library to videos on YouTube, and it doesn’t require any equipment besides an open floor and perhaps a chair.

What do you think? Will you try yoga to assist in controlling your blood pressure?

 

References:

1. Pushpanathan P, Trakroo M, RP S, Madhavan C. Heart rate variability by poincaré plot analysis in patients of essential hypertension and 12-week yoga therapy. National Journal of Physiology, Pharmacy & Pharmacology. 2015;5(3):174-180.

2. Centre for Reviews aD. Yoga and hypertension: A systematic review (provisional abstract). Altern Ther Health Med. 2014:32-59.

3. Cramer H, Haller H, Lauche R, Steckhan N, Michalsen A, Dobos G. A systematic review and meta-analysis of yoga for hypertension. Am J Hypertens. 2014;27(9):1146-1151.

4. Hagins M, Rundle A, Consedine NS, Khalsa SBS. A randomized controlled trial comparing the effects of yoga with an active control on ambulatory blood pressure in individuals with prehypertension and stage 1 hypertension. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2014;16(1):54-62.

5. Siu PM, Yu AP, Benzie IF, Woo J. Effects of 1-year yoga on cardiovascular risk factors in middle-aged and older adults with metabolic syndrome: A randomized trial. Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome. 2015;7(1):1-12.

6. Yang K. A review of yoga programs for four leading risk factors of chronic diseases. Evidence-based Complementary & Alternative Medicine (eCAM). 2007;4(4):487-491.

7. Awdish R, Small B, Cajigas H. Development of a modified yoga program for pulmonary hypertension: A case series. Altern Ther Health Med. 2015;21(2):48-52.

8. Centre for Reviews aD. Yoga for hypertension: A systematic review of randomized clinical trials (provisional abstract). Complement Ther Med. 2014:511-522.

Poised Poses for more Z’s

Monday, November 17th, 2014

by Rachel Bull, PharmD student

Poor sleep quality is one of the most common health complaints in older adults today.  It is approximated that more than 80% of older adults experience sleep disturbance to some degree, while 50% note the common recurrence of sleep disturbance.1 Insomnia can be defined as, “having trouble falling or staying asleep, waking up too early and cannot return to sleep, or not feeling refreshed after sleeping”.2 The identification of the presence of insomnia is often quite obvious while the cause of the insomnia can be more difficult to identify.  The cause of insomnia can range greatly and is often not the primary disorder rather a response to an underlying issue.  The most common causes of insomnia are stress and anxiety.  Other causes can include a medical illness, poor sleep habits, or other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and narcolepsy. The standard of care for insomnia is the practice of reestablishing a normal sleep cycle which can be accomplished with sleep hygiene practices such as exercise, a nonprescription sleep aid, or a prescription sleep aid.2 These treatments still pose barriers such as not being completely effective for all patients, therefore alternative treatments for insomnia are still being pursued.  Also, many over the counter sleep aids come with barriers of their own including the body building tolerance against antihistamines which are commonly found in these sleep aids, feeling groggy or unwell the next day, potential medication interactions, and a list of side effects associated with each sleep aid such as dizziness, dry mouth, and daytime sleepiness being the most common among all sleep aids.3 Recently an up and coming trend for treating insomnia has been focused on using the practice of yoga.  Yoga has been found to naturally strengthen the body by improving physical strength and flexibility, reducing stress, improving breathing patterns, and enhancing mental focus.4

A recent publication in Alternative Therapies by Health & Medicine explored the effects of yoga as a treatment for insomnia.1 Alternative therapies, such as yoga, have been proposed to be a safe alternative from the standard of care such as sleep aids and provide a treatment with little adverse events.  This waiting-list controlled trial study was conducted at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel and looked at how participating in yoga classes twice weekly as well as recommended home-based practices would affect older adults with complaints about insomnia.  The study included 67 participants who were 60 years and older. Sixteen of the participants were assigned to the waiting list control group while the other 43 participants were assigned to the yoga intervention group and 7 participants dropped out for various reasons.  The results concluded that overall the practice of yoga by older adults was shown to be a safe treatment and led to improved sleep quality and duration.  The study found that just 25 minutes of yoga per day for 12 weeks led to improved sleep status. A limitation presented by the authors was that there was not a single method of measuring the outcomes instead a wide range of measuring methods were used.  Another limitation would be the compliance of the participants throughout the study. This was evident with only 10% of participants maintaining the practice compliance level.1

There has been previous research done on this topic over the years. Another study showed yoga can positively affect insomnia by improving sleep efficiency and sleep duration.4 The study provided the participants with yoga training and instructed all participants to maintain daily yoga practice for eight weeks.  The participants kept sleep diaries for two weeks before the yoga practices began and for the entire eight week study to record the amount time spent asleep, number of times they woke up during the night, and the time spent sleeping between waking periods.  The study also noted that the cause of insomnia has commonly been linked to anxiety and depression.4 Another study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry found that 60 minutes of yoga daily for 6 months led to improved sleep quality among the elderly aged 60 years and older.5 This study supports the conclusion that the practice of yoga improves sleep quality while noting that further research should be conducted on this alternative therapy because of its great potential to treat insomnia.5

Yoga still offers barriers such as potential injury and the fact that the elderly population should not first attempt yoga on their own without seeking advice from their primary care provider. On the other hand, yoga can be more financially friendly than some medications offered to treat insomnia.  The benefits of yoga naturally target the most common causes of insomnia, which prove to be another reason why the practice of yoga should be utilized as a treatment for insomnia. Yoga can easily be incorporated into a basic lifestyle change by finding a yoga class at a local gym or fitness center or in the peace of your own home by using instructed yoga videos for just 30 minutes a day.

Are these poised poses worth a try? Do you think specifically yoga treats insomnia or simply exercise in general?  Is yoga the answer to your sleepless nights?

 References

  1. Baharav A, Cahan C, Cohen M, Halpern J, Kennedy G, Reece J. Yoga for improving sleep quality and quality of life for older adults. 2014; 20(3):37-38-46.
  2. Melton, C. K. Insomnia, Drowsiness, and Fatigue. In: R. R. Daniel L. Krinsky, Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs An Interactive Approach to Self-Care. Washington, DC: American Pharmacists Association; 2012: 867-876.
  3. Mayo Clinic Staff. Sleep aids: Understand over-the-counter options. Mayo Clinic Web site. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/in-depth/sleep-aids/art-20047860. Published 12/10/2011. Updated 2014. Accessed 11/15, 2014.
  4. Khalsa, SBS. Treatment of Chronic Insomnia with Yoga: A Preliminary Study with Sleep-Wake Diaries. 2004; 29(4):269-278.
  5. Basavaraddi IV, Gangadhar BN, Hariprasad VR, et al. Effects of yoga intervention on sleep and quality-of-life in elderly: A randomized controlled trial. 2013; 55:364-365-368.