, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 257-277

Biobehavioral treatment of essential hypertension: A group outcome study

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In a group outcome and follow-up study of 77 patients with essential hypertension, significant reductions were seen in systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP) and in hypotensive medication requirement. A multimodality biobehavioral treatment was used which included biofeedback-assisted training techniques aimed at teaching self-regulation of vasodilation in the hands and feet. Of the 54 medicated patients, 58% were able to eliminate hypotensive medication while at the same time reducing BP an average of 15/10 mm Hg. An additional 19 (35%) of the medicated patients were able to cut their medications approximately in half while reducing BP by 18/10 mm Hg. The remaining 4 (7%) medicated patients showed no improvement in either BP or medication requirement. Similar reductions in BP were seen in initially unmedicated patients. Seventy percent of the 23 unmedicated patients achieved average pressures below 140/90 mm Hg, with an additional 22% of these patients making clinically significant reductions in pressure without becoming normotensive, and with 8% unsuccessful at lowering pressures to a clinically significant extent. Follow-up data available on 61 patients over an average of 33 months indicated little regression in these results with 51% of the total patient sample remaining well-controlled off medication, an additional 41% partially controlled, and 8% unsuccessful in lowering either medications and/or blood pressures to a clinically significant extent.

This research was partially supported by grant HL-32136. The Authors wish to thank Sarah Bremer for her assistance in preparing this article.