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Can Guided Imagery Lower Hypertension in Late Pregnancy?

06 Dec

Researchers in nursing from the University of Toronto investigated whether relaxation through guided imagery could reduce blood pressure in hypertensive pregnant women, as it does in non-pregnant women, with this feasibility study.

A total of 69 pregnant women with hypertension were randomized to either a guided imagery intervention or quiet rest, twice daily for 4 weeks or until delivery, whichever came first.  Daytime ambulatory mean arterial pressure, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and anxiety were measured weekly (for up to four weeks).

Women assigned to the guided imagery arm had lower mean arterial pressure elevations over time than those randomized to quiet rest.  However, when adjusted for baseline mean arterial pressure and gestation, the effect was not significant.  Neither was there evidence of an effect on anxiety.
Still, nearly 90% of the guided imagery group indicated that they would use it again. Further rigorous study is warranted to determine the effects of guided imagery on maternal blood pressure and perinatal health outcomes.

Citation: Moffatt FW, Hodnett E, Esplen MJ, Watt-Watson J. Effects of Guided Imagery on Blood Pressure in Pregnant Women with Hypertension: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Birth. 2010 Dec;37(4):296-306.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award