Note: PHA cautions PH patients to check with their doctor before taking up yoga, meditation and other mindfulness practices.
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a progressive disease that affects the heart and the lungs (Lai, Potoka, Champion, Mora & Gladwin, 2014). Patients with this disease are treated to help control the pulmonary pressures and prevent right heart failure. Some patients are on combination therapy and still experience bouts of shortness of breath and fatigue (Roland, 2016). This can be very stressful for the patients. Incorporating non-drug-related options to relieve stress may be helpful.
Mindfulness meditation is one non-pharmacological alternative that may be effective in combating stress often associated with pulmonary arterial hypertension. Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention to whatever you feel in the present moment and doing so without reactivity and judgement — simply being receptive and open to your experience.
In 2013, a study was conducted using mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSE) for patients with coronary heart disease (CHD), which demonstrated observed reduction in anxiety and depression, perceived stress, blood pressure and body mass index. In 2014, a study conducted using mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for interstitial lung disease (ILD) patients demonstrated positive effects on their mood and lasting improvement in several stress-related areas.
Studies are suggesting mindfulness may be a beneficial complement to patient’s current medication regiments in dealing with persistent drug-related side effects and medical symptoms.
As a complement to the pulmonary hypertension patients that we treat at the Keck Hospital of USC Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension and Cardiothoracic Transplant program, we have provided a link to our support group from March 2017, which shares some mindfulness practices.
Lai, Y-C., Potoka, K.C., Champion, H.C., Mora, A.L. & Gladwin, M.T. (2014) Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension: The Clinical Syndrome. Circulation Research (115) (1) (pp 115-130). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4096686/
Roland, J. (2016) Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH): Understanding Treatment Options. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/pulmonary-arterial-hypertension-treatments
Parswani, Manish J, Mahendra P Sharma, and SS Iyengar. “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program in Coronary Heart Disease: A Randomized Control Trial.” International Journal of Yoga 6.2 (2013): 111–117. PMC. Web. 11 Jan. 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3734636/
Sgalla G, Cerri S, Ferrari R, et al. Mindfulness- based stress reduction in patients with interstitial lung diseases: a pilot, single- centre observational study on safety and efficacy. BMJ Open Resp Res 2015;2: e000065. doi:10.1136/ bmjresp-2014-000065 http://bmjopenrespres.bmj.com/content/bmjresp/2/1/e000065.full.pdf