Behavioral and physiological effects of a beta blocker and relaxation therapy on mild hypertensives.
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In this industrial-based study we compared the blood pressure (BP)-lowering effectiveness of relaxation, a beta blocker, and the combined use of these two treatments in 47 untreated, mildly hypertensive blue collar steel workers. Using a randomized two by two factorial design, patients received either nadolol or placebo drug daily, and either a relaxation training or an education program, each lasting 8 weeks. A pre-intervention and post-intervention stress test measured response of heart rate and BP to mental and physical tasks. BP assessments were done at baseline, post-intervention, 1 month, and 3 month follow-up. Change in several self-report measures was determined. Results showed that beta blocker was more effective in lowering BP than placebo, but relaxation was not more effective in lowering BP than health education. The combined effect of beta blocker and relaxation was not superior to beta blocker alone. Compliance with relaxation practice was not superior to compliance with medication. We conclude that pharmacologic treatment is superior to the relaxation therapy tested.
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