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Quick Study

QUICK STUDY : A weekly digest of new research on major health topics

Tuesday, February 15, 2005; Page HE06


Meditation that aims to relieve stress may benefit blacks.

THE QUESTION High blood pressure affects blacks in the United States in disproportionate numbers. Might Transcendental Meditation (TM) -- designed to reduce stress, which can lead to hypertension -- offer a long-term remedy?

THIS STUDY randomly assigned 150 middle-aged black adults with high blood pressure to practice the mental relaxation techniques of TM, to do muscle relaxation exercises or to follow recommendations of a health education program. Participants spent about 20 minutes twice a day on their specific routine. After a year, participants who practiced TM had lowered their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) by about three points and diastolic reading (the bottom number) by six points, compared with an average decline of one point systolic and three points diastolic for the other two groups. Those who meditated also reduced their use of hypertension drugs, whereas usage increased among the others.

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WHO MAY BE AFFECTED BY THESE FINDINGS? Blacks, who tend to have hypertension at a younger age and more severely than other groups in the United States.

CAVEATS Transcendental Meditation is a patented stress reduction method that is licensed to Maharishi Vedic Development Corp. Half of the study's authors were employed by Maharishi University of Management, in Fairfield, Iowa. Whether TM would benefit other racial groups remains unknown.

BOTTOM LINE Blacks with high blood pressure may want to ask a doctor about TM.

FIND THIS STUDY January issue of the American Journal of Hypertension; abstract available online at www.ash-us.org (click on the journal icon).

LEARN MORE ABOUT high blood pressure at www.americanheart.organd www.nhlbi.nih.gov.

rheumatoid arthritis

Inflammatory disease seems to increase risk of heart failure.

THE QUESTION People with rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammatory and most debilitating form of the joint disease, face years of chronic pain and loss of mobility. Do they also face increased chances of heart failure, which occurs when the heart cannot adequately pump blood throughout the body?

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