In recent research from Brazil, published in the Archives of Brazilian Cardiology, participants with hypertension were able to significantly reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by practicing specific breathing techniques daily for a month. These breathing exercises focused on breathing more slowly and deeply. In this study, blood pressure dropped from an average of 135/99 to 124/81. In addition, total lung capacity also increased. This study demonstrated that practicing breathing exercises over time may reduce high blood pressure.
Meditation, regular exercise and other stress reducing techniques all focus on deep, rhythmic breathing. Researchers with background in the martial arts also recognized that slow, deep breathing patterns could lower blood pressure. They focused their study on qigong, a traditional Chinese practice of coordinated movements, breathing and meditation. They conducted a small clinical trial with a cardiac rehabilitation program and demonstrated that a daily qigong breathing practice could lower blood pressure. Deep breathing exercises affect a number of metabolic processes in the body including improving the sensitivity of the baroreflex - a blood pressure gauge in the carotid arteries and aorta. In those with hypertension, this blood pressure gauge may overshoot, causing the increase in blood pressure. Another mechanism may be that deep breathing reduces blood pressure by reducing stress hormones.