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Evaluation of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention Program to Decrease Blood Pressure in Low-Income African-American Older Adults

Abstract

Hypertension affects a large proportion of urban African-American older adults. While there have been great strides in drug development, many older adults do not have access to such medicines or do not take them. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has been shown to decrease blood pressure in some populations. This has not been tested in low-income, urban African-American older adults. Therefore, the primary purpose of this pilot study was to test the feasibility and acceptability of a mindfulness-based program for low income, minority older adults provided in residence. The secondary purpose was to learn if the mindfulness-based program produced differences in blood pressure between the intervention and control groups. Participants were at least 62 years old and residents of a low-income senior residence. All participants were African-American, and one was male. Twenty participants were randomized to the mindfulness-based intervention or a social support control group of the same duration and dose. Blood pressure was measured with the Omron automatic blood pressure machine at baseline and at the end of the 8-week intervention. A multivariate regression analysis was performed on the difference in scores between baseline and post-intervention blood pressure measurements, controlling for age, education, smoking status, and anti-hypertensive medication use. Effect sizes were calculated to quantify the magnitude of the relationship between participation in the mindfulness-based intervention and the outcome variable, blood pressure. Attendance remained >80% in all 8 weeks of both the intervention and the control groups. The average systolic blood pressure decreased for both groups post-intervention. Individuals in the intervention group exhibited a 21.92-mmHg lower systolic blood pressure compared to the social support control group post-intervention and this value was statistically significant (p = 0.020). The average diastolic blood pressure decreased in the intervention group post-intervention, but increased in the social support group. Individuals in the intervention group exhibited a 16.70-mmHg lower diastolic blood pressure compared to the social support group post-intervention, and this value was statistically significant (p = 0.003). Older adults are at a time in life when a reflective, stationary intervention, delivered in residence, could be an appealing mechanism to improve blood pressure. Given our preliminary results, larger trials in this hypertensive study population are warranted.

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Correspondence to Priya Palta.

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Palta, P., Page, G., Piferi, R.L. et al. Evaluation of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention Program to Decrease Blood Pressure in Low-Income African-American Older Adults. J Urban Health 89, 308–316 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-011-9654-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-011-9654-6

Keywords

  • Blood pressure
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)
  • Older adults