Paced breathing lowers diabetics’ blood pressure

Special breathing exercises may help people with diabetes lower their blood pressure, it seems.

In a study involving type 2 diabetics with hypertension, paced breathing exercises performed at home using the FDA-approved RESPeRATE device led to a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure, the upper number in a blood pressure reading, researchers report.

Their study, reported in the Journal of Human Hypertension, was supported by InterCure Ltd., a medical device company based in Lod, Israel that manufactures the RESPeRATE device.

The study involved 66 overweight type 2 diabetic patients, with uncontrolled blood pressure, which averaged 148/81 at the outset.

Thirty-three subjects used the RESPeRATE device, “which interactively guides the user towards slow and regular breathing by synchronizing respiration voluntarily to musical tones for 15 minutes daily,” Dr. Moshe H. Schein of Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem and colleagues explain. The other 33 patients formed a control group.

“Both the intervention and control groups continued their usual care, including pharmacological treatment, diet and physical exercise,” the investigators note.

At the end of 8 weeks, systolic blood pressure was reduced by 10 points in subjects performing the breathing exercises, whereas blood pressure readings were largely unchanged in the comparison group.

“In addition, patients reported feeling more relaxed after the device-guided breathing,” Schein noted in a written statement accompanying the study.

“A high percentage of diabetic complications can be attributed to hypertension. However, data show that only 20 percent of diabetic patients reach the recommended target blood pressure,” Schein added. “It is therefore encouraging that an effective non-drug therapy can help this population improve its blood pressure control.”

SOURCE: Journal of Human Hypertension, May 2009.

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