Effects of mental relaxation and slow breathing in essential hypertension

Department of Medicine, Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Swami Rama Nagar, P.O. Doiwala, Dehradun 248140, Uttaranchal, India.
Complementary Therapies in Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.55). 06/2006; 14(2):120-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.ctim.2005.11.007
Source: PubMed


To compare mental relaxation and slow breathing as adjunctive treatment in patients of essential hypertension by observing their effects on blood pressure and other autonomic parameters like heart rate, respiratory rate, peripheral skin temperature, electromyographic activity of the frontalis muscle and skin conductance.
One hundred patients of essential hypertension either receiving antihypertensive drugs or unmedicated were selected randomly. Various parameters were recorded during the resting state and then during mental relaxation and slow breathing for 10 min each, separated by a quiet period of 15 min. All parameters were recorded again after mental relaxation and slow breathing. Changes in various parameters observed after mental relaxation and slow breathing were analyzed and compared.
Both mental relaxation and slow breathing resulted in a fall in systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and electromyographic activity with increase in peripheral skin temperature and skin conductance. Slow breathing caused a significantly higher fall in heart rate (p<0.05), respiratory rate (p<0.001), systolic blood pressure (p<0.05) and diastolic blood pressure (p<0.01). Increase in peripheral skin temperature (p<0.05) and reduction in electromyographic activity (p<0.05) occurred more with mental relaxation. No significant differences were seen between increases in skin conductance (p>0.2) observed with both the modalities.
Even a single session of mental relaxation or slow breathing can result in a temporary fall in blood pressure. Both the modalities increase the parasympathetic tone but have effects of different intensity on different autonomic parameters.

47 Reads
  • Source
    • "We hypothesized there would be reductions in PTSD, anxiety, and physiological startle response. Given the use of a respiration-based meditation and data indicating that similar interventions slow respiration rate in anxious populations (e.g., Delgado et al., 2010; Kaushik et al., 2006), we also measured respiration rate at baseline and one week after, well as following the intervention at two additional follow-up intervals. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Given the limited success of conventional treatments for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), investigations of alternative approaches are warranted. We examined the effects of a breathing-based meditation intervention, Sudarshan Kriya yoga, on PTSD outcome variables in U. S. male veterans of the Iraq or Afghanistan war. We randomly assigned 21 veterans to an active (n = 11) or waitlist control (n = 10) group. Laboratory measures of eye-blink startle and respiration rate were obtained before and after the intervention, as were self-report symptom measures; the latter were also obtained 1 month and 1 year later. The active group showed reductions in PTSD scores, d = 1.16, 95% CI [0.20, 2.04], anxiety symptoms, and respiration rate, but the control group did not. Reductions in startle correlated with reductions in hyperarousal symptoms immediately postintervention (r = .93, p < .001) and at 1-year follow-up (r = .77, p = .025). This longitudinal intervention study suggests there may be clinical utility for Sudarshan Kriya yoga for PTSD.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Journal of Traumatic Stress
    • "It has been reported in one study that a single 10-minute session of slow breathing caused a temporary fall in blood pressure, heart rate, electromyograph (EMG) activity, and a rise in skin temperature8. Another study showed that slow breathing over a span of 4 wk increased parasympathetic activity9. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background & objectives: Regular practice of slow breathing has been shown to improve cardiovascular and respiratory functions and to decrease the effects of stress. This pilot study was planned to evaluate the short term effects of pranayama on cardiovascular functions, pulmonary functions and galvanic skin resistance (GSR) which mirrors sympathetic tone, and to evaluate the changes that appear within a short span of one week following slow breathing techniques. Methods: Eleven normal healthy volunteers were randomized into Pranayama group (n=6) and a non-Pranayama control group (n=5); the pranayama volunteers were trained in pranayama, the technique being Anuloma-Viloma pranayama with Kumbhak. All the 11 volunteers were made to sit in similar environment for two sessions of 20 min each for seven days, while the pranayama volunteers performed slow breathing under supervision, the control group relaxed without conscious control on breathing. Pulse, GSR, blood pressure (BP) and pulmonary function tests (PFT) were measured before and after the 7-day programme in all the volunteers. Results: While no significant changes were observed in BP and PFT, an overall reduction in pulse rate was observed in all the eleven volunteers; this reduction might have resulted from the relaxation and the environment. Statistically significant changes were observed in the Pranayama group volunteers in the GSR values during standing phases indicating that regular practice of Pranayama causes a reduction in the sympathetic tone within a period as short as 7 days. Interpretation & conclusions: Beneficial effects of pranayama started appearing within a week of regular practice, and the first change appeared to be a reduction in sympathetic tone.
    No preview · Article · May 2013 · The Indian Journal of Medical Research
  • Source
    • "Conscious control of breathing, such as during breathing exercise, provides a mechanism for conscious control of autonomous nervous system and—to some degree—a conscious control of involuntary body processes. Today, breathing exercises are being used as a complementary treatment of hypertension [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25], asthma [26] [27] [28] [29] [30], sleep disorders [31] [32], and stress/anxiety-related disorders [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38]. Technical solutions that allow detection of breathing frequency do already exist [31,39–46], but they are not easily integrated with a computer to enable interactive paced-breathing exercises . "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We demonstrate a low latency respiratory/breathing frequency detection system that is fast (<5 ms), easy to operate, requires no batteries or external power supply and operates fully via computer-standard USB connection. Exercises in controlling ones breathing frequency, usually referred to as paced-breathing exercises, have shown positive effects in treating pulmonary diseases, cardiovascular diseases and stress/anxiety-related disorders. We developed a breathing frequency detection system which uses two pairs of microphones to detect exhalation activity, eliminate noise from the environment and stream the recording data via USB connection to a personal computer. It showed 97.1% reliability (10 subjects) when monitoring breathing activity in non-guided free breathing and 100% reliability (10 subjects) when monitoring breathing activity during interactive paced-breathing exercises. We also evaluated the breathing frequency detection systems noise elimination functionality which showed a reduction of 84.2 dB for stationary (white noise) and a reduction of 79.3 dB for non-stationary (hands clapping) noise.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2011 · Journal of Medical Engineering & Technology
Show more