Having a high blood pressure is harmful to your health. It can eventually even lead to heart failure, stroke or kidney problems. As a doctor and patient, Buteyko understood the relationship between the breathing and high blood pressure as early as 1952. He found that breathing more slowly and less air reduced his symptoms of high blood pressure and that deliberate hyperventilating exacerbated the symptoms.
Problems of high blood pressure
The heart pumps blood through the body all day. Oxygenated blood flows through the arteries, providing tissues and organs with oxygen. The heart pumps low-oxygen blood back to the lungs where it gets new oxygen. Due to the pumping function of the heart, the blood exerts pressure on the walls of the arteries. This pressure fluctuates continuously to meet changing requirements.
Blood pressure is controlled by sensors located in the carotid sinus (in the throat) and in the aortic arch. These so called baroreceptors sense the blood pressure and send this information to the brain stem where the blood pressure is controlled. High blood pressure occurs when the baroreceptors no longer work properly or as a result of a narrowing of the arteries. In that case, the blood flow is hindered and the pressure increases. The heart begins to work harder to maintain blood circulation. This extra pressure can temporarily solve the problem, but it burdens the heart and blood vessels and this is harmful in the long run.
One of the problems with high blood pressure is that it is not always clear immediately. Some people may discover it by coincidence at a routine medical check. Or they might not get a single warning signal until all of a sudden, things go wrong. Those who do experience symptoms can suffer from blurred vision, memory loss, headache, dizziness, palpitations and shortness of breath.
Buteyko & high blood pressure
An unhealthy lifestyle and chronic stress are risk factors that can cause high blood pressure. Another one is genetic predisposition. Nevertheless, there is reason for hope as lifestyle choices can lower the (risk of high) blood pressure. The Dutch Heart Foundation recommends eating healthy food, losing weight in case of obesity, exercising enough, not smoking and managing stress.
Developing a healthy breathing pattern has also a positive effect. There is a clear relationship between high blood pressure, stress and breathing. People with high blood pressure have a higher breathing frequency during stress compared to those with normal blood pressure. Chronic stress unbalances the autonomic nervous system and therefore also disrupts breathing. However, this process can be influenced with the Buteyko breathing exercises. Breathing more slowly, with less air and deeper into the belly (using the diaphragm) rebalances the nervous system, causing blood pressure, breathing frequency and heart rate to drop.
The Story of Clara (71)
January 2020 she writes us: “I have been receiving treatment from the cardiologist for years. Due to an irregular heartbeat and atrial fibrillation, a pacemaker was implanted in 2013. I also had to start taking beta blockers. In the past year, I’ve even been given a more heavy medication. I started with Buteyko in November and the effect is fantastic. After only four weeks, the cardiologist said I could continue with half of my medication. In general, I feel fitter and, for example, I walk up the stairs faster. I no longer suffer from dizziness, even when playing tennis. Moreover, with a Buteyko exercise, I immediately can slow down my heart rate. It’s nice to be in control now.”
You can learn the Buteyko method in an individual course, with meetings live or online (by video calling), or with a combination of the two. At our office in Hoofddorp, the sessions will take place in compliance with all Corona measures.
How is your breathing now?
Buteyko has developed a simple test: measuring the Control Pause. This test is explained here.
Do you suffer from high blood pressure?
Please feel free to contact us and request a free consultation. Or read more about out the content of the Buteyko course and how to sign up.