Using Hypnosis To Treat Hypertension

In an interesting pilot study by researchers Richard Ruskin,  Charles Raps  Frederic Luskin,  and  Rosemarie Carlson at Pace University, New York, USA Veteran's Hospital, Northport, USA , Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Stanford, USA and Private Practice, Roslyn, New York, USA respectively , Medical patients diagnosed as hypertensive whose blood pressures were normalized while they were hospitalized were often found to require upward titration of medication upon follow-up as outpatients. Self-hypnosis was taught to one group of hospitalized patients; a second group received equal attention and time to relax without the specified procedure; and a third group was monitored with no intervention. On follow-up, the hypnosis group showed greater downward change in diastolic blood pressure than the monitored group, with the attention-only group in between. Additionally, no subjects in the hypnosis group required upward titration of medications.

Controlled Hypertensive patients, who were hospitalized earlier, reported increase in blood pressure in followup clinic. Self-Hypnosis was taught to 1st group of patients, 2nd group got sufficient time to relax, while 3rd group was let off as it is. On the next visit the first group, who was taught self-hypnosis, showed no increase in blood pressure or upward increase in dosage of medicines. Hence it was suggested that self-hypnosis should be included in hypertensive treatment for long term control.
It is very important to carefully control blood pressure, because if it is left like that, damage to the heart, brain, and kidneys occurs with fatal consequences. Once patients are controlled on medicines; they must continue to take it for a lifetime. A word of caution, mentioned by doctors of a hospital, found that patients controlled during hospitalization, later on follow-up visits reported an increase in blood pressure. One reason could be due to job, social commitments, physical activities, etc. and increasing dosage of medicines could also increase the side effects.
To tackle this problem, psychologists developed a self-hypnosis package that was taught to hospitalized patients. Such patients were taught to control blood pressure by using certain relaxation techniques and attention focussed exercises, which helped them to maintain their blood pressures.

In this study all admitted patients having blood pressure since the last one year were evaluated. About 56 patients volunteered with an average age about 52 years and all were males. The blood pressure of all patients were measured using the same instrument, and an average of three readings were taken. Screening of Control, treatment and attention only groups was done. Discharged patients from Hospital were called again after one month, then examined by a physician and dosage titration, if need be, was done.
After completion of followup was done, 1st and 2nd group was trained for self-hypnosis method by the trainer, and were asked to repeat at home, twice a day.

There was not much significant difference in the systolic reading between treatment and control groups, whereas there was significant difference in Diastolic pressures of both groups. In the control group, 32 percent needed dosage increase of hypertensive patients, 11 percent needed dosage changes in attention only group, whereas in the treated group, 12 percent of the patients had to Lower their dosages for blood pressure.

As is already demonstrated, addition of self-hypnosis along with medicines helps not only in better management and control of blood pressure, but it may also be possible to reduce the dosage of medicines.
With the growing trend of combining psychological services along with primary care medicine, this study opens the door for a new type of patient treatment in which psychologists can play a major role in treatment of hypertension, and by reducing the number of tablets, the treatment also becomes cost effective in the long run. 


Compiled from various international research journals available at google scholar by D. Mukherjee having 38 years of pharmaceutical (Cardiac, Diabetic, Neurology, Pain & Inflammation products) experience with a Swiss Multinational Company NOVARTIS and edited by Dr Sandeep Ahlawat, MBBS