RESPeRATE is a guided breathing device that can significantly lower your blood pressure. It is accredited by the FDA in the US and the NHS in the UK, and recommended by the American Heart Association.
Device-guided slow breathing lowers blood pressure
While a short period of slow, deep breathing can lower your blood pressure temporarily, you need to perform extended breathing exercises for at least 10 minutes, four times a week, for long-term improvements in hypertension.
RESPeRATE helps you achieve a therapeutic breathing rate effortlessly, by monitoring your breathing and guiding the rate at which you breathe in-and-out.
RESPeRATE is recommended in a Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association as an evidence-based, alternative approach to lowering blood pressure, and can be used together with diet and lifestyle modifications, and with antihypertensive medication, to help you achieve your target blood pressure.
What is RESPeRATE?
RESPeRATE lowers blood pressure through beneficial effects on stress and bio-feedback. The system consists of an elasticated strap with a breathing sensor, a battery-operated control device with a display screen, and ear bud headphones.
You use RESPeRATE while relaxing back in a chair – it’s important not to lean forward as this will limit your ability to breathe deeply.
The sensor strap wraps around your upper abdomen to monitor your breathing rate and send information to the control box whose microprocessor analyses your breathing pattern. During this phase, the device plays relaxing background music via the headphones, and a figure shows your breathing movements on the screen. Normal resting breathing rate is between 12 and 18 breaths per minute.
Once RESPeRATE has assessed your breathing pattern, it generates a personalised melody that includes two, distinct breath-guiding sounds: a high tone which tells you to breathe in, and a low tone that tells you to breathe out. Voice instructions help you to synchronise your breathing to these tones during the first few breaths.
The tones then slowly prolong so that, as you breathe in-and-out, you are guided into the therapeutic breathing zone in which you breathe less than ten times per minute. The recommended range is 5 to 10 breaths per minute, with a prolonged exhalation phase. The aim is to stay in this therapeutic breathing zone for at least 10 minutes, at least four times a week.
Clinical trials show that achieving at least 10 minutes of slow, therapeutic breathing on four days per week (and ideally every day) promotes relaxation and blood vessel dilation. Within three to four weeks of regular use, this can significantly lower a high blood pressure down towards the normal range.
How effective is RESPeRATE?
Results from eight clinical trials, involving 494 people with hypertension, show that device-guided breathing, using RESPeRATE for 8 or 9 weeks, significantly reduced blood pressure by 3.67/2.51 mmHg.
A later analysis, by the American Heart Association, used the results from 13 clinical trials, involving over 600 people with hypertension. This showed that 8 to 9 weeks of regular RESPeRATE use significantly reduced blood pressure by an average of 13/7 mmHg, compared with reductions of 9/4 mmHg with control interventions such as listening to relaxing music or home blood pressure monitoring.
Blood pressure improvements were seen after the first 1 to 2 weeks of daily use, and the blood pressure lowering effect increased in relation to the total time spent using the device. The greatest effect was seen in those with the highest initial blood pressures.
In 2015, an article in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension stated that:
‘RESPeRATE may offer an easy, efficient, inexpensive, and noninvasive option for treating hypertension. Multiple studies showed a significant reduction of blood pressure when RESPeRATE was evaluated in a home and office setting.’
According to the American Heart Association scientific statement, there are no known contraindications to using RESPeRATE.
Why does RESPeRATE lower blood pressure?
The exact way in which regular, slow, deep breathing lowers blood pressure is not fully understood, but is believed to result from resetting several blood pressure control mechanisms, such as:
- Stimulating and desensitising pressure receptors located within the chest
- Reducing the sensitivity of receptors that react to carbon dioxide/oxygen balance
- Reducing overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system
- Reducing levels of stress-related hormones
- Allowing small arteries to dilate.
A recent medical publication, in Current Hypertension Reports (June 2017) suggests that device-guided breathing techniques could be used alongside lifestyle approaches as a first step for people with mild hypertension who do not have cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, or diabetes.
If guided breathing does not control blood pressure within two or three months, then drug therapy should be considered.
They also suggest that device-guided paced breathing could be recommended for people:
- whose blood pressure is not well controlled on antihypertensive medication
- who cannot tolerate their medication
- who wish to try to reduce the number of medications they are taking
- who have white coat hypertension and are interested in biofeedback techniques.
RESPeRATE on NHS prescription?
RESPeRATE was added to the NHS Drug Tariff (Part IV) in February 2012, where it remains available when checked in May 2017. This means that RESPeRATE is theoretically available for prescription on the NHS.
Unfortunately, the cost (£132 to the NHS) means that many Clinical Commissioning Groups advise doctors not to prescribe it, even though significant numbers of people with hypertension do not achieve their blood pressure targets using medication alone.
Their stance is bolstered by a statement issued by the British Hypertension Society (BHS) back in April 2012 advising against its use (even though they accepted that it significantly reduced blood pressure) because of insufficient evidence. The BHS have not updated this advice over the last 5 years, despite the positive scientific statement from the American Heart Association and other hypertension experts.
I wish you good luck in persuading your doctor to prescribe it.
RESPeRATE Ultra stores information relating to one user.
RESPeRATE Deluxe Duo can store information relating to two users, and has a backlight for use at night.
Have you used RESPeRATE, or persuaded your GP to prescribe it on the NHS? Please share your experiences via the comments box below.
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.