Research: SELVAMURTHY and colleague

Listed in Issue 28


SELVAMURTHY and colleagues, Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences, Timparpur, Delhi, India conducted a study on 20 male patients with Essential Hypertension (EH) to explore the role of baroreflex mechanism in EH and to find out whether EH could be cured or controlled by restoring baroreflex sensitivity to normal using a postural tilt table or using equivalent yogic postural exercises (Yogic asanas).



Patients who were on a therapeutic regime were gradually withdrawn from drug therapy, and afterwards divided into 2 groups of 10 each. Group I (34 years) was subjected to a 3-week course of 70 degrees head-up tilt for 30 minutes daily; Group II (age 50) did specific yogic exercises equivalent to head-up or head-down tilt for the same duration. Progressive autonomic readjustments were assessed using tests including cardiovascular responses to head-up tilt, cold pressor response at 4 degrees C water (CPR), alpha index of EEG (AI), level of blood catecholamines (CA) and plasma renin activity (PRA).


At the end of 3 weeks, there was a significant reduction in blood pressure in both the groups. There were progressive changes in BP and HR response to tilt during the 3 weeks course of tilt and yogic exercise, indicating gradual improvement in baroreflex sensitivity. There were changes to other indices including CPR, AI, CA and PRA which indicated progressive attenuation of sympatho-adrenal and renin-angiotensin activity.


The changes together with the reduction in BP strongly suggest a close link between the aetiology of EH and baroreflexes on the one hand and controlling influence of the latter upon sympatho-adrenal and renin-angiotensin systems on the other. This also throws light upon the physiological mechanism underlying the effects of selected yogic exercises in the treatment of EH.


Selvamurthy W et al. A new physiological approach to control essential hypertension. Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. 42 (2): 205-13. Apr 1998.


These are excellent results indeed and proof that exercises such as yoga can significantly reduce blood pressure in people suffering from essential hypertension.

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