Center For Cognitive Therapy

Hypertension & Blood Pressure Control

When we experience stress, anger, or other strong emotions our body responds in a characteristic way that has been termed the “Fight-or-Flight” response. Our body prepares for action by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle activity so that the body is ready to deal with the crisis at hand. Normally, these physiological activities return to normal once the crisis is over. However, we can often experience these emotions repeatedly so that the body stays in a more perpetual state of readiness. This program has been designed to provide you with a variety of skills to combat stress in the “heat of your everyday battles”.

There are perhaps as many different types of stress as there are snow-flakes. Negative types of stress may come in the form of anger, anxiety about impending deadlines, or an over committed lifestyle. Stress can also occur in the context of a positive experience such as a job promotion or getting married. Finally, stress can occur in seemingly neutral situations (e.g. while absorbed in a task) without actually feeling stress while responding physically in ways that can lead to blood pressure increases. Stress can occur without our awareness because the emotional experience of stress is very relative and depends on a “frame of reference”. For example, a person may respond to situation in a consistently “stressful” way, but because this has always been the way they respond, it feels “normal”. Therefore, stress management skills can control blood pressure even in those individuals who do not describe themselves as feeling stressed.

This home based treatment and materials have been developed and tested by Dr. Oakley and his associates in a clinical trial funded by Research Grant HL-40584 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at UCLA, School of Medicine and Bio-behavioral Sciences. In this study that was published in the American Journal of Hypertension (1997, vol 10, #1, 9-17) it was demonstrated that the majority of those individuals who received this treatment were able to successfully reduce medications requirements substantially while maintaining normal blood pressure throughout the one year follow-up period. Many were able to eliminate all hypertensive medications.

This program is an excellent treatment option for individuals who want to reduce medication requirements, are poorly controlled by anti-hypertensive medications, or for those with borderline hypertension who are seeking a non-pharmacological approach to blood pressure control.. This program is designed to be implemented under the supervision of your attending physician. The treatment package includes a treatment manual and 3 cassette tapes as well as optional materials including portable thermal biofeedback and blood pressure monitoring equipment.

Each person receives a step-by-step instruction manual that covers the material presented in sessions and a series of 3 cassette tapes for Bio-behavioral Blood Pressure Control.

(Download the Hypertension Article reprint as a PDF)

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