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Pregnancy and hypertension? Yoga may help

News
August 8, 2022
By
Olena Mokshyna, PhD.

The group practicing yoga also demonstrated significant improvement in heart rate variability, decreased levels of myocardial stress and oxidative stress markers

Pregnancy and hypertension? Yoga may help

Worldwide, 7-10% of pregnant women suffer from hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP). Most frequent among those is gestational hypertension (GH), defined as the blood pressure (BP) of at least 140/90 mmHg or above that arises de novo in previously normotensive women. Women with GH are at increased mortality risk from preeclampsia and eclampsia (high BP accompanied by cardiovascular problems, organ dysfunction, and seizures). The exact mechanism behind GH is not fully explained, though it is known that oxidative stress and inflammation are the main contributors.

Currently, no specific pharmacological treatment is available for preeclampsia, though aspirin is commonly prescribed to women at high risk of HDP. The application of antihypertensive drugs is limited due to the concerns about side effects on a fetus. Multiple complementary health approaches (i.e., massage therapy, tai chi, acupuncture) have been tried in HDP treatment but failed to show significant efficiency. An integrated approach to yoga, including pranayama (breathing techniques) and asanas (poses), has been proven safe and beneficial during pregnancy. Benefits included improved birth weight, decreased preterm labor, and decreased BP. 

In a previous study, Karthiga et al. reported the effectiveness of a slow pranayama breathing exercise against the incidence of pregnancy-induced hypertension. In their new study, the researchers investigated if a structured yoga module (consisting of basic asanas and slow pranayama) can help pregnant women with GH risk. Moreover, the authors assessed the physiological and biochemical influences of yoga intervention.

The study included 234 pregnant cis-gender women, with 113 in the control group and 121 in the study group (practicing yoga for 20 weeks, twice a day for one hour). In the control group, 26% of subjects developed GH, 10% developed preeclampsia, and 3% developed eclampsia. Only 6% of women in the study group developed GH, and no incidents of preeclampsia or eclampsia occurred. The group practicing yoga also demonstrated significant improvement in heart rate variability, decreased levels of myocardial stress and oxidative stress markers, and reducedlevels of inflammation markers. Study group subjects also showed significantly increased nitric oxide levels, linked to improved cardiovascular health.

Though the results of this study need further investigation, they highlight the potential benefits of yoga integration in pregnancy management, especially for women with a high risk of GH. The authors also suggest that yoga should be included early in pregnancy for a healthy course and safer delivery.

Source Nature Scientific Reports

Pregnancy and hypertension? Yoga may help

Worldwide, 7-10% of pregnant women suffer from hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP). Most frequent among those is gestational hypertension (GH), defined as the blood pressure (BP) of at least 140/90 mmHg or above that arises de novo in previously normotensive women. Women with GH are at increased mortality risk from preeclampsia and eclampsia (high BP accompanied by cardiovascular problems, organ dysfunction, and seizures). The exact mechanism behind GH is not fully explained, though it is known that oxidative stress and inflammation are the main contributors.

Currently, no specific pharmacological treatment is available for preeclampsia, though aspirin is commonly prescribed to women at high risk of HDP. The application of antihypertensive drugs is limited due to the concerns about side effects on a fetus. Multiple complementary health approaches (i.e., massage therapy, tai chi, acupuncture) have been tried in HDP treatment but failed to show significant efficiency. An integrated approach to yoga, including pranayama (breathing techniques) and asanas (poses), has been proven safe and beneficial during pregnancy. Benefits included improved birth weight, decreased preterm labor, and decreased BP. 

In a previous study, Karthiga et al. reported the effectiveness of a slow pranayama breathing exercise against the incidence of pregnancy-induced hypertension. In their new study, the researchers investigated if a structured yoga module (consisting of basic asanas and slow pranayama) can help pregnant women with GH risk. Moreover, the authors assessed the physiological and biochemical influences of yoga intervention.

The study included 234 pregnant cis-gender women, with 113 in the control group and 121 in the study group (practicing yoga for 20 weeks, twice a day for one hour). In the control group, 26% of subjects developed GH, 10% developed preeclampsia, and 3% developed eclampsia. Only 6% of women in the study group developed GH, and no incidents of preeclampsia or eclampsia occurred. The group practicing yoga also demonstrated significant improvement in heart rate variability, decreased levels of myocardial stress and oxidative stress markers, and reducedlevels of inflammation markers. Study group subjects also showed significantly increased nitric oxide levels, linked to improved cardiovascular health.

Though the results of this study need further investigation, they highlight the potential benefits of yoga integration in pregnancy management, especially for women with a high risk of GH. The authors also suggest that yoga should be included early in pregnancy for a healthy course and safer delivery.

Source Nature Scientific Reports

Article reviewed by
Dr. Ana Baroni MD. Ph.D.
SCIENTIFIC & MEDICAL ADVISOR
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Dr. Ana Baroni MD. Ph.D.

Scientific & Medical Advisor
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Ana has over 20 years of consultancy experience in longevity, regenerative and precision medicine. She has a multifaceted understanding of genomics, molecular biology, clinical biochemistry, nutrition, aging markers, hormones and physical training. This background allows her to bridge the gap between longevity basic sciences and evidence-based real interventions, putting them into the clinic, to enhance the healthy aging of people. She is co-founder of Origen.life, and Longevityzone. Board member at Breath of Health, BioOx and American Board of Clinical Nutrition. She is Director of International Medical Education of the American College of Integrative Medicine, Professor in IL3 Master of Longevity at Barcelona University and Professor of Nutrigenomics in Nutrition Grade in UNIR University.

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