Previous studies reported that a device-guided slow-breathing (DGB) exercise decreases resting blood pressure (BP) in hypertensive patients. This study investigated the effects of daily practice of DGB on (a) 24-h BP and breathing patterns in the natural environment, as well as (b) BP and breathing pattern during clinic rest. Altogether, 40 participants with pre-hypertension or stage 1 hypertension were trained to decrease breathing rate through DGB or to passively attend to breathing (control, CTL) during daily 15-min sessions. The participants practiced their breathing exercise at home for 4 weeks. The DGB (but not the CTL) intervention decreased clinic resting BP, mid-day ambulatory systolic BP (in women only) and resting breathing rate, and increased resting tidal volume. However, 24-h BP level was not changed by DGB or CTL interventions, nor was overnight breathing pattern. These findings are consistent with the conclusion that a short-term, autonomic mechanism mediated the observed changes in resting BP, but provided no evidence that regular DGB affected factors involved in long-term BP regulation. Additional research will be needed to determine whether 24-h BP can be lowered by a more prolonged intervention.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00328016.