12/23/2009 - Questions and Answers

Breathing and blood pressure

By: Novoviva webmaster

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Question

I've heard you can lower your blood pressure by slowing your breathing. Is this possible? I'm trying to follow a healthy lifestyle, and taking my meds, but it would be nice to try a more "natural" way of treatment.

Answer

Your doctor can advise you if your lifestyle changes and medications are controlling your blood pressure adequately. However, you are correct - there is a link between respiration rate and high blood pressure, and you may want to try it. It's long been known that relaxation can help lower blood pressure, while stress raises it.
 

The normal respiration rate is 14 to 19 breaths a minute, at rest. Slowing that rate to below 10 has been shown to be effective in helping to lower blood pressure (see reference below). It's thought that slower breathing sends signals to the brain causing the small muscles in artery walls to relax, letting the blood flow more easily.
 

You can learn to slow your breathing with appropriate instruction from a trained physical therapist; yoga classes are also helpful. Listening to music specially chosen to assist in regulating breathing is another possibility. Finally, in 2002 the FDA approved a device called RESPeRATE that can be bought without prescription (see link below). This device provides personalized interactive coaching to help the user regulate their breathing at a lower rate. It should be used for 15-minute sessions at least three times a week.

 

Related Links
RESPeRATE to lower blood pressure

Created on: 01/15/2005
Reviewed on: 12/23/2009

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