The effects of short-term relaxation therapy on indices of heart rate variability and blood pressure in young adults.
Am J Health Promot. 2014 Sep-Oct;29(1):23-8. Epub 2013 Nov 7. PMID: 24200249
Gopal Krushna Pal
PURPOSE: Assessment of short-term practice of relaxation therapy on autonomic and cardiovascular functions in first-year medical students.
DESIGN: Case-control, interventional study.
SETTING: Medical college laboratory.
SUBJECTS: Sixty-seven medical students, divided into two groups: study group (n = 35) and control group (n = 32).
INTERVENTION: Study group subjects practiced relaxation therapy (shavasana with a soothing background music) daily 1 hour for 6 weeks. Control group did not practice relaxation techniques.
MEASURES: Cardiovascular parameters and spectral indices of heart rate variability (HRV) were recorded before and after the 6-week practice of relaxation therapy.
ANALYSIS: The data between the groups and the data before and after practice of relaxation techniques were analyzed by one-way analysis of variance and Student t-test. In the study group, prediction of low-frequency to high-frequency ratio (LF-HF) of HRV, the marker of sympathovagal balance, to blood pressure (BP) status was assessed by logistic regression.
RESULTS: In the study group, there was significant reduction in heart rate (p = .0001), systolic (p = .0010) and diastolic (p = .0021) pressure, and rate pressure product (p<.0001), and improvement in HRV indices, following 6 weeks of relaxation therapy. As determined by regression model, prediction of LF-HF to BP status was more significant (odds ratio, 2.7; p = .009) after practice of relaxation therapy. There was no significant alteration in these parameters in control subjects.
CONCLUSION: Short-term practice of relaxation therapy can improve autonomic balance and promote cardiovascular health of medical students. Sympathovagal balance is directly linked to BP status in these individuals.