It is estimated that 1 in 4 Americans have high blood pressure or hypertension. The latest guidelines say that blood pressure should be below 120/80 and physicians are recommending blood pressure medication for blood pressure above 140/90.
So what is blood pressure and why is it important? And, why are we discussing blood pressure in relationship to relaxation training?
First, blood pressure is the pressure of the blood as it moves within your body's vascular system. Your blood pressure is determined by a complex interaction of many organs in your body such as your heart, the diameter of your blood vessels, kidney function and your autonomic nervous system. There is an optimum blood pressure but in actuality your blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day, depending on your stress and activity levels. Problems arise when your blood pressure remains above normal over a period of time, damage can begin to occur to your vascular system and other organ systems and result in eye and kidney damage, stroke, heart attack and other serious problems. Usually there are no sensations associated with high blood pressure, though some people report being able to sense when their blood pressure is high.
There are certainly medical treatments for high blood pressure and anyone with hypertension needs to work with their physician to treat their high blood pressure in ways that are best for them. It is, however, important to note that it is possible to affect high blood pressure by lifestyle changes. Increased exercise, lowered caffeine intake, weight loss and relaxation training have all been shown to have a positive effect on blood pressure. By utilizing one or all of these positive lifestyle strategies it may be possible to improve your blood pressure. There are some indications that just by taking your blood pressure on a regular basis you can have a positive effect on normalizing your blood pressure.
High blood pressure is more than a nuisance. It's a killer...
The leading cause of stroke, heart attack and congestive heart failure, high blood pressure is often referred to as 'The Silent Killer'. In fact , every year more than 2 million deaths result from uncontrolled high blood pressure. Medical experts overwhelmingly agree that every point reduction in blood pressure can significantly reduce health risks associated with high blood pressure.
Breathing for better cardio heatlh? It is worth the effort.
Medical professionals sometimes negate the positive impact on your health resulting from learning relaxation techniques because they require effort and commitment. They take a bit more time than just taking a pill. But with relentless, contradictory information on medications the FDA deems as safe/not safe, it is more important than ever to seek out what you can do to improve your health without negative side effects.
An article entitled Meditate for Better Cardio Health? by Micholas Bakalar describes a paper published in the American Journal of Cardiology about the benefits of meditation. A retrospective 18 year follow-up of two studies found that meditation was associated with significantly lower mortality than standard drugs for high blood pressure.
So clearly, keeping your blood pressure under control isn't always easy. According to the American Heart Association, over 70% of high blood pressure patients don't have their condition under control. For some people, a healthier diet, exercise and medication work. For others, that's still not enough.
The emWave2 Studies done with the RESPeRATE show that it is possible to lower your blood pressure by 15 points which is significant in efforts to manage blood pressure. The RESPeRATE works on a simple but effective strategy, it guides you to lower your respiration rate below 10 breaths a minute. Clinical trials using the RESPeRATE to lower blood pressure have shown that by lowering the rate of respiration below 10 breaths a minute on a daily basis positive changes in blood pressure can be achieved.
So why not sit at home, listen to music and lower your rate of respiration? You can do this, and it helps to have a device like the RESPeRATE that can monitor the process for you. In fact, slower respiration is the method of relaxation we use in many of our courses and it forms the basis of much of Qigong, the Chinese breathing exercises that promote better health. The advantage of using the RESPeRATE is that it helps distract your mind from 'trying too hard'. It helps you pace your breath through the use of music. The tempo of the music changes with the in and out breaths and gradually guides you to slower breathing, impacting your blood pressure levels.