Device not a cure for hypertension
Mitchell Ross, MD, is a cardiologist at Banner Estrella Medical Center.
Question: I've tried diet and exercise to lower my blood pressure, now my doctor wants to prescribe medication. I'm hoping there is another option. I read in the paper about a new electronic device that helps you slow your breathing to lower your blood pressure. Is this worth investigating?
Answer: High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common disease that affects about 50 million people in the United States, and 1 billion individuals worldwide.
Although most people have no symptoms, hypertension is a very serious condition that can lead to the development of heart attacks, heart failure, stroke and kidney failure.
There are many effective ways to treat hypertension. Diet, exercise and smoking cessation are essential components of any treatment plan.
When lifestyle modifications alone are inadequate, physicians frequently prescribe mediation specifically designed to lower blood pressure. Most of these medications work very well and carry low risk of side effects.
The device you recently saw in the newspaper is the RESPeRATE, an FDA-approved electronic device that guides patients through paced breathing exercises. The manufacturer claims that by slowing breathing with the device for 15 minutes at least three times a week, users can lower their blood pressure.
While RESPeRATE has been clinically shown in small studies to reduce blood pressure, the device does not necessarily eliminate the need for diet, exercise and/or blood pressure medications as prescribed by a patient’s physician.
I would recommend that you discuss this option with your personal physician.