Increased cardio-respiratory coupling evoked by slow deep breathing can persist in normal humans

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2014 Dec 1;204:99-111. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2014.09.013. Epub 2014 Sep 28.


Slow deep breathing (SDB) has a therapeutic effect on autonomic tone. Our previous studies suggested that coupling of the cardiovascular to the respiratory system mediates plasticity expressed in sympathetic nerve activity. We hypothesized that SDB evokes short-term plasticity of cardiorespiratory coupling (CRC). We analyzed respiratory frequency (fR), heart rate and its variability (HR&HRV), the power spectral density (PSD) of blood pressure (BP) and the ventilatory pattern before, during, and after a 20-min epoch of SDB. During SDB, CRC and the relative PSD of BP at fR increased; mean arterial pressure decreased; but HR varied; increasing (n = 3), or decreasing (n = 2) or remaining the same (n = 5). After SDB, short-term plasticity was not apparent for the group but for individuals differences existed between baseline and recovery periods. We conclude that a repeated practice, like pranayama, may strengthen CRC and evoke short-term plasticity effectively in a subset of individuals.

Keywords: Neural control of heart rate; Neural control of respiration; Neural control of sympathetic nerve activity; Poincaré plots; Pranayama.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Breathing Exercises*
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Respiratory Rate / physiology*