Kent State University and Summa Health System receive NIH grant to study prehypertension

Summa Health System and Kent State University have received a $545,000 grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health to study the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction and progressive muscle relaxation on people with prehypertension. The Stress Management in Lifestyle Enhancement (SMiLE) study is an eight-week program that will examine whether or not adding stress management to a healthy lifestyle will help lower blood pressure.

Approximately 30 million Americans suffer from prehypertension, or blood pressure that is too high. Pre-hypertensive blood pressure is in the range of 120-139 Systolic/ 80-89 Diastolic, with hypertension starting at 140/90. Although most people with prehypertension will develop hypertension, they generally are not treated with medication at this stage.

Each year, more and more Americans are diagnosed with high blood pressure, says Summa Study Investigator and Kent State Assistant Professor of Psychology Joel Hughes, Ph.D. The goal of the SMiLE Study is to identify treatment options during the prehypertensive stage. Doing so will lead to a healthier community and, hopefully, a reversal of the growing number of people with heart disease.

As part of a mindfulness-based treatment, study participants will use meditation and thinking strategies to help reduce stress. Participants using progressive muscle relaxation will apply alternating tensing and relaxing of muscles to produce a calm feeling and stress reduction. All participants will have their blood pressure regularly monitored throughout the study.

Individuals may be eligible for this study if they are between the ages of 30 and 60, their blood pressure is elevated but not yet categorized as hypertensive, they are not taking medicine to treat high blood pressure and they are willing to commit to either the mindfulness-based stress reduction treatment or the progres

Contact: Melissa Edler
Kent State University

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