Dr Manesh Saxena explains new blood pressure injection
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What type of exercises are they?
These exercises are a form of muscle, also known as resistance, training. According to Craighead, there is evidence to suggest that strengthening the muscles we use to breathe will improve cardiovascular health.
Craighead, who was speaking to National Public Radio (NPR), said: “The muscles we use to breathe atrophy, just like the rest of our muscles tend to do as we get older.”
As part of an experiment to see whether increasing the size of the breathing muscles helps, Craighead asked volunteers between the ages of 18 and 82 to try a five-minute breathing exercise using a special device.
This device provides resistance and makes it harder to breath.
Hang on, doesn’t that defy the point?
The device works on the basis of resistance training. In the same way lifting heavier weights will allow you to lift that weight with greater ease in the future, so too will breathing against resistance make it easier to breath later on.
Craighead said: “We found that doing 30 breaths per day for six weeks lowers systolic blood pressure by about nine millimetres of mercury.”
These reductions are similar to what could be expected from walking, running, or cycling said the researcher who explained: “What we found was that six weeks of IMST [inspiratory-muscle strength training] will increase endothelial function by about 45 percent.”
While a drop in the single figures may not seem significant, according to physician Michael Joyner it is similar to the type of reduction one might see through medication.
As a result, Joyner says the device is “promising” and says it could act as a form of preventative care to stop people from running into issues later on.
Joyner added: “Taking a deep, resisted, breath offers a new and unconventional way to generate the benefits of exercise and physical activity.”
So could this device replace exercise?
No, not according to Craighead who says it is more aimed at those who have blood pressure readings so high that they’re at risk of a heart attack or stroke.
He added that “it would be a good additive intervention for people who are doing other healthy lifestyle approaches already”.
What the main types of blood pressure?
Blood pressure is not one reading, but a combination of two, systolic and diastolic.
Systolic blood pressure is the force at which the heart pumps blood around the body while diastolic is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
The NHS says: “High blood pressure is considered to be from 140/90mmHg (or an average of 135/85mmHg at home) – or 150/90mmHg (or an average of 145/85mmHg at home) if you’re over the age of 80.”
Meanwhile, ideal blood pressure should is “is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg, while the target for over-80s is below 150/90mmHg (or 145/85mmHg at home)”.
What are the best ways to lower blood pressure?
While not everyone will have access to specialist devices, there are some non-medicinal ways to lower blood pressure.
These include dietary changes such as lowering your salt intake and eating a low-fat, balanced diet.
Furthermore, reducing alcohol intake and quitting smoking, alongside reducing caffeine consumption can also aid reductions in blood pressure.
Alongside this, exercise and losing weight will also assist in reducing the pressure inside the complex system of veins and arteries.
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