Ashford Clinic Blog
Proper breathing habits can help you manage blood pressure
Are you at risk for high blood pressure? Millions of Americans have this ‘silent killer’ and don’t even know it. Here’s how nose breathing techniques can help lower your blood pressure.
According to the American Heart Association, some 80 million American adults have high blood pressure – that’s 1 in every 3 American adults. High blood pressure has many causes, but exhibits no warning signs, and no symptoms. But, the consequences of untreated high blood pressure add up to a list of ailments that can severely affect your health; or even cause your death: heart disease and heart attacks; congestive heart failure; dissection of the aorta – a burst in the wall of the body’s main artery; kidney problems; loss of vision; erectile dysfunction; fluid in the lungs; loss of memory; angina and peripheral artery disease. That’s why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe it as “the silent killer.” An estimated 20% of the population has high blood pressure, but they don’t know it. Luckily, high blood pressure is manageable, and high on the list of was to do this is to control stress. If you have high blood pressure or are at risk for it, you can take important steps to control and reverse it, just by breathing properly.
Dr. John M. Kennedy, author of The Heart Health Bible: The 5-Step Plan to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, devised the trademarked BREATHE method for stress management and blood pressure reduction. This breathing exercise, derived from Kennedy’s technique, helps you calm your nerves, manage stress and lower your blood pressure. It’s the least expensive way there is to do this, so you might agree that it’s worth a fair try.
- Sit comfortably in a chair with arm rests and feel the force of gravity inviting your body to sink in. Feel the weight of your limbs, supported by the chair. Rest your feet comfortably on the floor.
- Focus on your breathing; place one hand on your or abdomen and observe the rise and fall of your hand with each breath.
- Inhale deeply and slowly through your nose and feel the breath move your abdomen as you fill your lungs; your chest should expand only slightly.
- Exhale through your mouth, remembering to relax your mouth, tongue, and jaw. Take a slow mental count of seven to extend your exhalation, if you can.
- Focus on the sound and feel of your deep, slow breathing.
Can you hear that there’s a sort of dance going on between your breath and your heart rate? With each deep inhalation, your pulse rate increases slightly; as you exhale, feel your heartbeat slow a little. Since ancient times, yogis have built sophisticated meditation practices around the technique of mindful breathing; medical studies have shown the mind can have a considerable effect on bodily rhythms that we once believed were completely involuntary. Now, Western medicine is adopting the principles of mindfulness. You can use proper breathing practice to lower your blood pressure, by living more in the present, and by listening attentively to your constantly changing symphony of physical response.