Medical College of Georgia
Department of Medicine: Georgia Prevention Institute
My research evaluated the effectiveness of stress reduction techniques in the treatment of elevated blood pressure and associated preclinical markers of cardiovascular disease in youth. Research highlights: Contributed to studies with mind-body medicine: The mechanism of blood pressure lowering effects with Transcendental Meditation was proposed based on findings with adults. This study was followed up in a school-based study with prehypertensive African American adolescents, that reported and improved school behavior, reduced resting and ambulatory blood pressure and reduced cardiovascular reactivity and left ventricular mass in adolescents at risk for hypertension practicing the Transcendental Meditation program. We were able to demonstrate that a school-based meditation program could be successful in lowering blood pressure in normotensive 12 year-olds. A later study with prehypertensive adolescents reported reduced blood pressure and sodium retention and the importance of family influences on meditation efficacy. Studies on childhood obesity: Our studies with childhood obesity reported findings on the association of adiposity and cardiovascular reactivity in adolescents that was published in the International Journal of Obesity. These findings were followed up with a school-based mindfulness-based eating awareness training for overweight adolescents that showed improved diet and exercise habits. A later study examined ethnicity and socioeconomic status on cardiovascular reactivity in youth. We were the first to measure stress levels and hemodynamics in adolescents with family members deployed in the Iraq War and the first to report on anger, anxiety and blood pressure changes with a school-based anger management program for adolescents. We recently reported on an in-patient program to increase bicycle helmet use in youth for prevention of traumatic brain injury. Recent findings with Transcendental Meditation and PTSD in active duty military service members has been published in Military Medicine.