Stage 2 pre essential hypertension (preEH;130-139/<90 mmHg) entails a 3-fold risk of developing EH and 2- fold risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events compared to those with optimal blood pressure (<120/80 mmHg). Prevention programs are needed which can be sustained by preEHs and readily disseminated by healthcare providers. Psychological stress is a risk factor for future EH and CVD. Stress reduction via meditation has shown promise in reducing blood pressure (BP) but adult studies have not determined optimal dosage level nor evaluated dosage adherence objectively. Multiple underlying biobehavioral mechanisms linking meditation with BP reduction also require additional scrutiny. The proposed research will address these issues by further developing and optimizing a smart phone breathing awareness meditation program (Tension Tamer:TT). Stage 2 preEH 21-50 year old African Americans and Whites balanced by geographical locale (urban vs. rural) and healthcare providers from 12 practice sites (6 urban/6 rural with 12,843 stage 2 preEHs) within the OQUIN practice based research network will be enrolled. The 3 stage process of intervention development specified in PA-11-063 will involve: 1) Optimization of TT content and delivery formats guided by behavioral and technological theories using 6 focus groups of OQUIN healthcare providers and 6 focus groups with preEHs (8 preEHs per group);2) 6 month TT proof of concept study (n=60 stage 2 preEHs) to establish dosage tolerability and impact upon resting and 24 hour SBP and biobehavioral mechanisms: worry, rumination, anxiety, hostility, mindfulness, sleep, physical activity, sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA) activity;3) 12 month 2-arm randomized control trial (RCT;TT vs enhanced standard of care smart phone health education program;total n=80) to generate estimates needed for design of a large scale RCT. This series of iterative studies, implemented and guided by healthcare providers and their preEH patients, will result in an intervention acceptable to multiple racial/ethnic groups in both urban and rural settings, feasible to conduct in clinical practice settings, effective in reducing SBP in a pilot RCT and ready for a large scale RCT.

Public Health Relevance

Practical, sustainable prevention programs that can be easily disseminated are needed which will reduce blood pressure (BP) and deter transition of pre essential hypertension (preEH) to EH. We aim to develop a smart phone delivered breathing meditation program that will improve BP control among African American and White preEH adults from rural and urban settings. Personalized feedback mechanisms of heart rate function improvements and reinforcement/motivational messages will facilitate sustainable behavior change and deter onset of EH.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Emotion, Stress and Health Study Section (MESH)
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Czajkowski, Susan
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Medical University of South Carolina
Schools of Nursing
United States
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Price, Matthew; Ruggiero, Kenneth J; Ferguson, Pamela L et al. (2014) A feasibility pilot study on the use of text messages to track PTSD symptoms after a traumatic injury. Gen Hosp Psychiatry 36:249-54