(Heart Coherence) Biofeedback and Essential Hypertension
Scientific research suggests that biofeedback lowers blood pressure. It seems to work indirectly, by balancing the body's stress systems, in particular the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). By measuring ANS balance and feeding the information back in real time, biofeedback allows you to become more aware of your body's stress responses, and learn to influence the ANS towards a healthier state.
Heart Rate Coherence Training is available to help you with High Blood Pressure, Hypertension HBP
Perhaps the best measure of ANS balance is Heart Rate Coherence (HRC) HRC is a beneficial pattern of change in Heart Rate which is synchronised with breathing. Low HRC has been shown to correlate with risk of developing hypertension. Regular practice of meditative breathing exercises in conjunction with HRC biofeedback can lower blood pressure significantly.
HRC training has also been shown to beneficially affect hormone imbalances. Levels of cortisol (the "stress hormone") go down while levels of DHEA (the "youth hormone") rise.
What's the evidence?
Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback Hypertension Page
AAPB rates the research evidence supporting biofeedback for hypertension at level 4 out of 5 - efficacious.
Heartmath Institute Hypertension Study
This study demonstates the benefit of stress management techniques incorporating Heart Rate Coherence biofeedback developed by the Hearthmath Institute.
Biofeedback Treatment of Hypertension - a Meta-analysis
A meta-analysis collates the results of a number of studies. This one reviewed 22 randomized controlled studies with 905 essential hypertensive patients, and concluded 'relaxation-assisted biofeedback significantly decreased both systolic and diastolic blood pressures'.
Heart Rate Variability and Hypertension
Research showing low Heart Rate Variability (or coherence) predicts hypertension.
Impact of a Workplace Stress Reduction Program on Blood Pressure and Emotional Health
Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., Mike Atkinson, and Dana Tomasino, B.A.
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2003; 9(3): 355-369.
Objectives: This study examined the impact of a workplace-based stress management program (HeartMath) on blood pressure (BP), emotional health, and workplace-related measures in hypertensive employees of a global information technology company.
Thirty-eight (38) employees with hypertension were randomly assigned to a
treatment group that received the stress-reduction intervention or a waiting
control group that received no intervention during the study period. The
treatment group participated in a 16-hour program, which included instruction
in positive emotion refocusing and emotional restructuring techniques intended
to reduce sympathetic nervous system arousal, stress, and negative affect,
increase positive affect, and improve performance. Learning and practice of the
techniques was enhanced by heart rate variability feedback, which helped
participants learn to self-generate physiological coherence, a beneficial
physiologic mode associated with increased heart rhythm coherence, physiologic
entrainment, parasympathetic activity, and vascular resonance. BP, emotional
health, and workplace-related measures were assessed before and 3 months after
Results: Three months post-intervention, the treatment group exhibited a mean adjusted reduction of 10.6 mm Hg in systolic BP and of 6.3 mm Hg in diastolic BP. The treatment group also demonstrated improvements in emotional health, including significant reductions in stress symptoms, depression, and global psychological distress and significant increases in peacefulness and positive outlook. Furthermore, the trained employees demonstrated significant increases in the work-related scales of workplace satisfaction and value of contribution.