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breathing, blood pressure, heart disease, hypertension


The leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease. Hypertension often leads to or results from these cardiovascular ailments. There are many treatments available to reduce blood pressure, but the CDC warns that “only 40% to 74% of people with diagnosed hypertension are adherent to prescribed medication” (Baker-Goering, et al., 2019). For these reasons, it would be helpful to identify a non-pharmacological, easy to learn method that could be followed by patients in the home setting to control blood pressures. A number of studies have indicated that slow deep breathing can regulate blood pressures although many of these studies have suffered from confounding factors. We conducted a review of the literature to examine the evidence. A rapid review of articles using PubMed Central (December 2015 to December 2020) and CINAHL Complete (via EBSCOhost) (December 2015 to December 2020) was conducted. Published articles involving slow-deep breathing interventions were included in this review. Additional search terms included “hypertension” or “hypertensive” or “pranayama” or “breathing exercises” or “paced breathing”. To be included, the articles were required to be peer-reviewed and in the English language. Other terms that disqualified a study were “asthma” or “COPD” or “stroke” or “stroke risk” or “tai chi” or “qigong”. We examined the published data to identify the effects of slow-deep breathing in the absence of confounding factors such as lifestyle interventions, identify where there are gaps in the research, identify the effectiveness of an extended (six weeks, once a day) slow-deep breathing protocol versus an acute (one week to one month, once a day) slow-deep breathing protocol, and identify what further research is needed to implement evidence-based treatment of hypertension of slow-deep breathing in a clinical setting.

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Sabina Kupershmidt

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