Breathing To Lower Blood Pressure
The rate of respiration (how many breaths per minute you do) is well known to affect blood pressure. With high blood pressure affecting so many in our modern lives, let’s talk about breathing for lower blood pressure.
A study was conducted, in which the arterial pulse and peripheral resistance were analysed in healthy humans instructed to perform paced deep breathing at 20, 15, 10 and 6 breaths per minute. The study found that the rate of respiration affects the harmonics of the blood pressure pulse, which is related to the resistance of the peripheral blood vessels, compliance of the aorta, and hence venous return.
Slower Breath = Lower Blood Pressure
Slow respiration causes blood pulse fluctuations to synchronise with the heart-beat rhythm. Slow breathing towards a rate of 6 breaths per minute has been said to result in increased venous return.
Further changes occur when we breathe diaphragmatically. Breathing with the diaphragm is important because of the anatomical fact that the diaphragm muscle is connected to and supports the heart, and provides passage for the aorta and the inferior vena cava.
Studies in diaphragmatic breathers have reported increased efficiency of venous return, maximally during slow respiration, due to diaphragmatic excursion enhancing the collapsibility of the inferior vena cava that occurs during normal inspiration.
A recent study has also found that synchronisation of breathing and dilation/contraction of blood vessels becomes apparent when respiration is slowed, and at around 6 breaths per minute.
Low breathing rate at about 6 breaths per minute also improves blood oxygenation.
Dr. Buteyko has pointed out how important diaphragmatic slow and gentle breathing is for optimal function of the heart and the whole cardiovascular system. He managed to cure himself of advanced heart disease by correcting his breathing pattern and spent most of his professional medical life educating patients and health professionals about functional breathing. He was a great advocate that the way we breathe is the first way to keep ourselves healthy. Then comes clean water, then nutrition.
To learn more about how breathing correctly can improve your health, take a look at my Functional Breathing Program.