High blood pressure increases your risk of a number of serious health concerns from heart attacks to strokes. While diet, specific medicines and exercise are known treatments, there is one simpler way to reduce your blood pressure immediately. Breathing happens naturally, but following a specific pattern or technique will help to control your blood pressure. Express.co.uk chatted to Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy to find out the easy breathing technique to reduce your blood pressure.
You don’t have to think about breathing because your body does it naturally.
The physiological mechanisms of breathing are controlled by the autonomic nervous system (ANS) – the body’s involuntary nerve pathway.
However, sometimes when we are anxious or stressed our breathing becomes too shallow.
Dr Lee explained: “For centuries, slow, controlled breathing has been used as a method to calm anxiety.
“This means taking control of your breathing and taking deep, slow breaths on purpose to get your breathing under voluntary control.
“Recent scientific developments mean we now know more about the relationship between how we breathe and the body's metabolic and physiological responses.”
Breathing has a number of mental health benefits, but lots of people don’t realise that it can help to reduce your blood pressure.
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The easy breathing technique to reduce your blood pressure
A 2015 study looked at 20 patients with hypertension and 26 healthy controls who were undertaking controlled breathing.
Slow breathing (six breaths per minute) statistically significantly lowered both systolic (upper reading) and diastolic (lower reading) blood pressure.
Slow breathing was also observed to improve baroreceptor sensitivity, Dr Lee said.
Six breaths per minute means you need to breathe in for five seconds and out for five seconds six times in a row, over and over.
Controlled breathing (16 breaths per minute) lowered systolic blood pressure only, so it’s important to try to breathe a little slower if you really want to keep your blood pressure down.
When you take active control of your breathing this also:
- Calms the brain
- Helps control your emotions
- Supports your memory and cognitive thinking
- Boosts your immune system
- Improves your metabolism