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Breathing Techniques to Help Lower Blood Pressure

by Matt Weik

What if I told you that you could be suffering from a condition that can kill you with no real symptoms to tell you that something is wrong? Pretty scary, right? If you have chronic high blood pressure that never goes down into the normal range, you’re at risk. The fix is to find out what needs to be done to help lower blood pressure if you fall into this category. Some people may be predisposed to such a condition, but many times it may be brought on due to stress and poor lifestyle behaviors.

Let’s dive into what blood pressure is, what is considered normal and high blood pressure, and some ways that you can help lower blood pressure through breathing techniques and other means.

High Blood Pressure — The Silent Killer

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is nothing to put off or think is no big deal. Living with high blood pressure has no real symptoms that would tell you that something isn’t right. It’s not like a cold where you get the sniffles or runny nose. It’s for that reason that it’s referred to as “The Silent Killer.”

This very quiet yet deadly condition may cause severe damage to your circulatory system and can significantly contribute to heart attack, stroke, and other health issues.

As recognized by the AHA (American Heart Association), there are five blood pressure ranges:
● Normal (120/80)
● Elevated (120-129/80)
● Hypertension Stage 1 (130-139/80-89)
● Hypertension Stage 2 (140/90)
● Hypertensive Crisis (180/120 or higher)

Is High Blood Pressure Common?

If you have high blood pressure, you’re not alone. And if you’re unsure if you have high blood pressure, now is probably a good time to get it checked to find out. According to the FDA, around 1 in 3 American adults have high blood pressure.

So, yes! High blood pressure is common, but no, you cannot take it lightly at the cost of your health and life.

What Can Happen If You Suffer from High Blood Pressure?

Here’s how uncontrolled blood pressure, when left untreated, can negatively affect your health:
● It can put you at a high risk of heart attack, as it makes your heart work harder and it tends to become less efficient.
● It can cause a stroke if a blood clot forms in the blood vessels of the brain.
● It can lead to kidney failure if it damages the blood vessels of the kidneys, which means you might need dialysis for the rest of your life or even a kidney transplant.
● It can damage the coronary arteries, which in turn can cause problems like chest pain or irregular heartbeats.

Breathing and High Blood Pressure

Breathing is one of the most important activities that our body performs, and we breathe about 20,000 times a day. Yet, most of us fail to do it correctly. Now, you might be questioning exactly how you breathe and what you’re doing wrong. Breathing the right way can help you in many different ways.

Dr. Andrew Weil, a world-renowned pioneer in the field of interactive medicine, says that breathing is the simplest and most powerful mind/body technique.
Apart from medicine, various breathing exercises can help you lower blood pressure. It’s crazy to think that by simply breathing, you can lower blood pressure, no?

Let’s do an experiment. Sit down, relax, and close your eyes. Take a deep breath and count to five. Repeat it 5-6 times. How do you feel now? Better, right? It is because breathing is an effective strategy to lower blood pressure.

Here’s how it works:
● It reduces stress and calms the sympathetic nervous system.
● Then, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, decreasing the heart rate and allowing proper blood flow.
● This reduces the resistance in the blood vessels that facilitates the blood flow to the heart and helps lower blood pressure.

3 Types of Breathing Exercises to Help Lower Blood Pressure

Below are three types of breathing exercises that you can try to help lower blood pressure and feel more relaxed.

1. 30-Second Breathing Exercise

As per a study, taking six deep breaths in a period of 30 seconds can help reduce systolic blood pressure.

2. Diaphragmatic Breathing

One study has shown that diaphragmatic breathing helps to lower blood pressure.

Here’s how to do the technique:
● Sit comfortably and place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach.
● Breathe gently and raise the hand placed at the stomach. Keep the hand at the chest still.
● Hold your breath and then exhale through your nose or mouth.
● Repeat this for 5-10 minutes.

3. Alternate Nostril Breathing

A study was published showing that alternate nostril breathing helps in lowering systolic blood pressure.

Here are some more tips to help lower blood pressure apart from the breathing exercises mentioned above:
● Watch your waistline and try to maintain a healthy body weight.
● Do exercise and physical activity on a daily basis.
● Consume a proper and balanced diet.
● Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet.
● Limit the consumption of alcohol.
● Try to cut back or eliminate caffeine.
● Do meditation or yoga.
● Monitor your blood pressure regularly.
● Get help from a professional.

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