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Biofeedback and Hypertension: Implications for Targeting Stress in Public Health

Winifred W. Thompson, MSW1, Kristine S. Calderon, PhD, CHES1, and Carolyn B. Yucha, PhD, RN2. (1) Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, 800 Sumter Street, 216F, Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC 29208, 803-576-6051, winifred@gwm.sc.edu, (2) College of Nursing, University of Florida, PO Box 100197, Gainesville, FL 32610

Biofeedback assisted relaxation training (BFRT) is a mind-body approach that can be used to handle stress caused by the environment. This stress is linked to chronic health conditions such as hypertension, cancer, asthma, and others. The purpose of this research is to determine the effects of BFRT on both clinic and ambulatory blood pressure among hypertensives. Fifty-four adults (17 male and 37 female; 36 white, 15 black, and 3 other races) with hypertension were studied; 42 were taking antihypertensive medications. Pre-training measures were collected during weeks 1-4. BFRT was provided during weeks 5-12. Post-training measures were collected during weeks 13, 16, 20, and 24, which included both clinic and 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure. BFRT was provided using thermal, electromyography (EMG), and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) biofeedback coupled with deep breathing, autogenics, and progressive muscle relaxation. Mean clinic systolic BP (SBP) dropped from 135.0 + 9.8 mmHg pretraining to 132.2 + 10.5 mmHg posttraining (F = 6.139, p = 0.017). Mean clinic diastolic BP (DBP) dropped from 80.4 + 8.1 mmHg pretraining to 78.5 + 10.0 mmHg posttraining (F = 4.441, p = 0.041). No effects were seen for 24-hour, daytime, or nighttime SBP or DBP. However, individually, change in 24-hour DBP was associated with change in clinic SBP (r=.380, p=.008) and change in clinic DBP (r=.453, p=.001). These findings support the use of BFRT for hypertension. BFRT can be a useful mind-body tool in conjunction with lifestyle intervention in targeting environmental stress-related public health conditions.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Stress, Hypertension

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Alternative and Complementary Health Practices and Public Health

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA