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Wenneberg, Roland S
The effects of Transcendental Meditation on ambulatory blood pressure, cardiovascular reactivity, anger/hostility, and platelet aggregation

Order No. 9421866

In addition to traditional risk factors, psychosocial stress such as Type A behavior pattern, anger and hostility, and increased cardiovascular reactivity to stress have been proposed as risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Therefore, stress reduction approaches such as Transcendental Meditation (TM) may be useful in modifying these behavioral factors.

Forty normotensive volunteers were pretested and posttested for cardiovascular reactivity to a standard battery of laboratory stressors, underwent ambulatory blood pressure monitoring during the day, and were tested for levels of anger, hostility, and platelet aggregation. They were randomly assigned to either TM or a cognitive-based Stress Education Class (SEC) control group. Both treatment groups involved similar instructional attention and daily practice.

After a four-month treatment period, no significant differences were found between the two treatment groups in cardiovascular reactivity or in average cardiovascular levels in the laboratory or in the field. However, the regular TM practitioners demonstrated increased systolic blood pressure reactivity to the preparation of a speech and to the speech task itself. In addition, the regular TM practitioners also demonstrated a significant reduction in average ambulatory diastolic blood pressure. No significant differences in platelet aggregation, anger or hostility were found between the two groups, except that the SEC group had lower outwardly expressed anger. Among all subjects of the study, significant positive correlations were found between outwardly expressed anger and collagen- induced platelet aggregation, and heart rate reactivity.

These results show that it is possible to decrease average ambulatory blood pressure levels without decreasing cardiovascular reactivity in normotensive subjects with the regular practice of TM. This finding supports the hypothesis that tonic (average) and reactive blood pressure are largely independently regulated and therefore can be differentially modified by behavioral treatment. Since average ambulatory blood pressure is a better predictor of cardiovascular complications of hypertension than clinic blood pressure, this finding may have implications for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Data from this study also suggest mechanisms whereby stress may be translated into coronary heart disease, i.e., anger may increase coronary heart disease through its association with platelet aggregation and heart rate reactivity. Source: DAI, 55, no. 06B, (1994): 2120

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