High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is the leading preventable cause of heart disease. It affects an estimated 1.3 billion people worldwide. New guidelines from the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) include meditating for 45 minutes each day to reduce blood pressure. The ISH says "body and mind" goals should be adopted in conjunction with established advice, like cutting down on salt, limiting alcohol intake, and exercising regularly. Study author Dr Bryan Williams told the BBC: "It all sounds like it is a bit…fluffy, but these things make such an important contribution to reducing the effects of stress on the cardiovascular system, and the evidence is accumulating."
Hypertension is often referred to as the "silent killer" because it rarely presents symptoms. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, heart failure, and stroke. It kills approximately 10 million people every year. Nearly half of Americans and 30 percent of people worldwide struggle with it. Dr Williams said: "There's so much people can do for themselves. All of us need to take a step back and…decompress and just relax." The American Heart Association also says meditating can help to lower blood pressure through "thoughtful awareness" or "restful alertness". The association reports that many studies show that "quieting the brain" benefits the cardiovascular system.
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