In more news regarding nonpharmaceutical ways to reduce hypertension, preliminary evidence shows a significant reduction in high blood pressure with consistent yoga practice, according to early study findings presented at the Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension in May 2013 in San Francisco.

The 24-week study, conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, found that people who practiced yoga two to three times per week saw their blood pressure fall significantly: an average of three points for both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, from 133/80 to 130/77. In participants who only followed a controlled diet–and did not practice yoga–BP decreased less notably, from 134/83 to 132/82. The study is ongoing and will expand to more than twice the number of current subjects.

Last month, in this column, we reported that yoga was not among the alternative and complementary therapies recommended for hypertension in the American Heart Association scientific statement on this topic.

Regarding the AHA statement, lead researcher Debbie Cohen, MD, associate professor of medicine, director of clinical hypertension programs, and co-director of Penn Neuroendocrine Tumor Program at the University of Pennsylvania, told IDEA Fitness Journal, “[Our study] is consistent with current published studies, as to date there are only eight randomized controlled trials, and most of these studies have methodological issues. Therefore, based on prior studies, yoga cannot be recommended as a treatment for hypertension. We are hoping to change this by conducting a rigorous study assessing the effects of yoga on hypertension, using gold-standard methodology to measure BP (ambulatory BP monitoring) with a large number of participants regularly practicing yoga two to three times per week.”

For more information, go to the American Society of Hypertension website at