One third of American adults are estimated to have high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure can lead to a number of medical conditions including heart attack (myocardial infarction) and stroke. The causes of high blood pressure are not completely understood, but we know that a variety of factors not only increase the risk of developing high blood pressure but also continue to exacerbate the problem.

Age, race, sex and heredity are uncontrollable factors; however, there are many controllable factors including living a healthy lifestyle (eating properly and avoiding risk factors such as using tobacco or excessive alcohol), exercising regularly and learning how to manage stress effectively.

Blood pressure medication may become necessary and one should never discontinue high blood pressure medication without the consent and advice of their physician; however, many things can be done to lower blood pressure, which may lead to a relatively normal blood pressure and cardiovascular outlook.

Weight loss is important in individuals who are overweight or obese. If your physician gives you the “okay” to proceed with exercise, this is also highly beneficial. Stress management is of key importance!

Massage has proven benefits for reducing stress and the effects that stress has on the body. It has been well-documented that massage increases serotonin levels, which has a calming effect on the body. In addition, a study published in Biological Research for Nursing suggested that regular massage may lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients. The subjects were divided into two groups. The massage group participated in ten-minute back massages three times a week for ten sessions. The control group was placed in the same environment for the same amount of time, but they did not receive massage and only relaxed. At the end of the trial, the massage group experienced a larger drop in blood pressure.1

Controlling high blood pressure is incredibly important and everything that you can do, you should! If you have high blood pressure, and your physician approves, massage therapy might be of some benefit.

Olney CM. The effect of therapeutic back massage in hypertensive persons: a preliminary study. Biological Research for Nursing 2005;7(2):98-105.