OBJECTIVE: Increased peripheral vasoconstriction (ie, total peripheral resistance, or TPR) has been implicated as playing an important role in the early development of essential hypertension. Some studies have demonstrated that Transcendental Meditation (TM) reduces high blood pressure, but the hemodynamic adjustments behind these blood pressure reductions have not been elucidated. The aim of this study was to provide a preliminary investigation of the acute effects of TM on TPR. METHODS: Subjects were 32 healthy adults (16 women and 16 men; 30 white and two African American; mean age, 46.4 +/- 3.9 years). Subjects were divided into a TM group of long-term TM practitioners (eight white women, nine white men, and one African American man; mean years of twice-daily TM practice, 22.4 +/- 6.7) and a control group (eight white women, five white men, and one African American man). Hemodynamic functioning was assessed immediately before and during three conditions: 20 minutes of rest with eyes open (all subjects), 20 minutes of TM (TM group), and 20 minutes of eyes-closed relaxation (control group). RESULTS: During eyes-open rest, the TM group had decreases in systolic blood pressure (SBP) and TPR, compared with increases in the control group (SBP: -2.5 vs. +2.4 mm Hg, p < .01; TPR: -0.7 vs. +0.5 mm Hg/liter per minute, p < .004). During TM, there was a greater decrease in SBP due to a concomitantly greater decrease in TPR compared with the control group during eyes-closed relaxation (SBP: -3.0 vs. +2.1 mm Hg, p < .04; TPR: -1.0 vs. +0.3 mm Hg/liter per minute, p < .03). CONCLUSIONS: TPR decreased significantly during TM. Decreases in vasoconstrictive tone during TM may be the hemodynamic mechanism responsible for reduction of high blood pressure over time. The results of this study provide a preliminary contribution to the understanding of the underlying hemodynamic mechanisms responsible for the beneficial influence of TM on cardiovascular risk factors.
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