Deep Breathing Lowers High Blood Pressure


Deep breathing is one of the most effective natural remedies for high blood pressure. It’s easy to do, anywhere, and it’s free! Often we   take breathing for granted as it happens automatically with little effort or thought on your part. Yet poor breathing habits such as deep sighs, gasps, breath-holding or taking rapid, shallow breaths are common, and can  contribute to high blood pressure. Just taking time to inhale deeply can lower your blood pressure in less than a minute, whether or not you are on antihypertensive treatment.

Deep breathing lowers high blood pressure

Japanese researchers checked the blood pressure of over 21,500 people while they were sitting in a clinic or hospital waiting to see their doctor – a notoriously stressful time when blood pressure naturally tends to rise – sometimes as part of white coat hypertension.

After resting quietly for ten minutes, the waiting patients had their blood pressure measured before and after sitting quietly for another thirty seconds, or before and after taking six, deep breaths in-and-out.

In those taking the deep breaths, significantly greater reductions in blood pressure were seen than in those who just sat quietly. People whose resting blood pressure readings were the highest gained the most benefit.

  • For those with untreated hypertension, blood pressure came down by an average of 9.6/3.0 mmHg
  • For those taking medication for high blood pressure, the average reduction was 8.3/2.8mmHg
  • For people with normal blood pressure, reductions averaged 6.4/2.3 mmHg.

Deep breathing caused pulse rates to come down, too.

Why does deep breathing lower a high blood pressure?

Deep breathing stimulates stretch receptors in the walls of large blood vessels within the chest. This activates nerve reflexes that lower blood pressure, and also stimulates the vagus nerve to slow your heart rate.

So, next time you’re sitting quietly, take a few deep breaths …..in…..and out ….. slowly, without holding your breath, and your blood pressure will naturally come down.

The higher your blood pressure, the better the results.

See how well this works yourself at home:

  • Check your blood pressure after sitting quietly
  • Then breathe in-and-out slowly, as deeply as you can, six times
  • Check your blood pressure again.

This simple technique brought down my blood pressure by 6/2 mmHg.

Deep breathing lung exercises are available to help improve your ability to inhale deeply for maximum effects.

Click here for 6 breathing exercises to lower a high blood pressure.

Yoga and meditation offer similar benefits through relaxation and breath control.

Devices to help improve your breathing technique are also available.

Click here for my review of the RESPeRATE device for high blood pressure which is accredited by the FDA, NHS and the American Heart Association.

If your blood pressure is raised, self-monitoring is key to maintaining good control.

Click here for advice on choosing a blood pressure monitor to use at home.

Image credit: hbrh/shutterstock


About DrSarahBrewer

Dr Sarah Brewer MSc (Nutr Med), MA (Cantab), MB, BChir, RNutr, MBANT, CNHC qualified from Cambridge University with degrees in Natural Sciences, Medicine and Surgery. After working in general practice, she gained a master's degree in nutritional medicine from the University of Surrey. Sarah is a registered Medical Doctor, a registered Nutritionist and a registered Nutritional Therapist. She is an award winning author of over 60 popular self-help books and a columnist for Prima magazine.


Please leave any comments or ask me a question ...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

2 thoughts on “Deep Breathing Lowers High Blood Pressure

    • DrSarahBrewer Post author

      The effects can persist for significant amounts of time. Using the RESPeRATE device 15 minutes per day can lower systolic blood pressure by 10mmHg to 20mmHg for as long as you persist – the exact reason is unknown but it appears to reset blood pressure receptors in the chest and helps to overcome the tendency to take shallow breaths when stressed which affects the acid balance of the blood (by retention of carbon dioxide) which in turn makes the kidneys less able to excrete sodium. Sodium retention promotes fluid retention and raises blood pressure. That’s the theory, anyway. Best wishes, Sarah B