“Walkman” that lowers blood pressure

A gadget which helps the user lower blood pressure without drugs, has been launched.

It looks like a CDWalkman, helps open up blood vessels that have become narrowed, causing a build-up of pressure. It works by changing and slowing breathing patterns, which lowers blood pressure.

The device is called Resperate and has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The results of seven clinical trials were presented to doctors at a recent meeting of the British Hypertension Society.

The device works by picking up the breathing rate of a patient through a sensor worn on a belt round the chest.

Once the device has worked out the patient’s resting breathing rate, it creates an individual programme to guide it from, on average, 18 breaths a minute to ten, using calming music played through the headphones to encourage slower breathing.

Research has shown that just by making breathing slower and deeper, more oxygen is taken into the lungs and muscles surrounding blood vessels. If enough oxygen is not reaching these muscles they constrict, causing high blood pressure. Once the muscles relax, blood pressure is reduced.

Clinical trials of the machine revealed that ten breaths a minute brought blood pressure down to a safe level of 120/80. After three to four weeks, blood pressure should have reached a safe level. Patients then use the machine for 15 minutes three times a week to maintain this.

Resperate sends out two different-toned signals — one to tell the patient to breathe in, the other to exhale. As the exercise progresses, the tones the patient hears become longer, slowing down their breathing. Changes in lifestyle and diet are often to blame. Being overweight, eating too much salt and drinking too much alcohol are all factors

Dr William Elliott, a consultant at Rush Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago, has carried out several trials with Resperate and is impressed. ‘It is as effective at controlling blood pressure as some drugs.’

ï RESPERATE costs £199 and is available in the UK from www.anhealth.co.uk”> or by calling 0870 350 1264