How effective are relaxation therapies in the management of primary hypertension in adults?
Different trials gave different – sometimes inconsistent – results. Many of the trials were not well-designed or well-conducted. Some of the apparent benefit of relaxation therapy was possibly due to aspects of treatment unrelated to relaxation, such as frequent contact with treatment providers (which might reduce ‘white coat hypertension’).
The World Health Organization estimates that high blood pressure leads to over 7 million deaths per year and about 13% of total deaths worldwide. Lifestyle interventions are often recommended as initial treatment for mild hypertension, but the efficacy of relaxation therapies (autogenic training, progressive muscular relaxation, cognitive/behavioural therapies, and biofeedback) is unclear. Autogenic training is a relaxation technique which focuses on physical sensations, such as breathing or the heartbeat, assisted by self-suggestion¹. 1. Stetter F, Kupper S. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. 2002;27:45-98.