When to start – how to start
1. In youth
To prevent the high blood pressure that so often is the trigger factor which leads relentlessly to the flashpoint of a heart attack (and which may or may not be preceded by angina), the relaxation response grafted on to everyday life from early adult days onwards seems almost obligatory if continued good health is desired. In other words, our Group 1 novitiates who work through their 10-day course and sensibly build a regular relaxation time into their life will live longer and stay fitter than they would otherwise.
2. In early middle age
People in their 30s and 40s may seem to be perfectly fit, but they may, however, be suffering from the ‘disease with no symptoms. If their blood pressure is repeatedly checked (in a situation that discounts temporary and transient highs on the blood pressure scale) then some form of blood pressure lowering procedure will stop the inevitable process by which high blood pressure leads to angina or heart attacks.
It is always a doctor’s responsibility accurately to tailor the treatment to fit the patient. Maybe drugs, lifestyle changes, and body weight adjustment will be necessary. In many cases if relaxation can be taught, either using Group 1 or Group 2 techniques, it will be possible to reduce blood pressure to normal levels. If long-term prophylactic medication is embarked upon prior to the relaxation response being taught, drug regimes with their inherent inconvenience and side effects can often be safely abandoned (under medical supervision) once the relaxation response is learned and built into the lifestyle.
3. Older people
Usually some organic changes will have occurred in the blood vessels or the heart (or both) with advancing years. In other words, the stage of a ‘disease without symptoms’ has passed. Often drug regimes will have been started to try to control symptoms and to restore more efficient function. Modem drug therapy has much to offer on this score. A suitable relaxation regime (Group 3) will be beneficial. Even in the presence of structural artery changes that, alas, relaxation will have difficulty in altering now, the battle is by no means lost. The relaxation response will still be able to alter the ‘stickiness factor’ of the blood, and during the period of relaxation the body uses less oxygen for its general wear and tear functions and thus leaves more for the heart to use in its often straitened circumstances. If someone in Group 3 is severely disabled by their illness they can omit altogether the physical components from the teaching method, or concentrate only on mastery of the relaxation response. A suitable regime is as follows:
Teach yourself to relax regime for people with blood pressure and cardiac problems of an established nature