Controlling High Blood Pressure Without Drugs

Patient Expert

The usual way that people with diabetes control hypertension -- high blood pressure in normal English -- is with medication. These drugs include everything from diuretics and beta blockers to ACE inhibitors and ARBs and more. Unfortunately, like all drugs, they all have their unwanted side effects.

If we could control high blood pressure without drugs, we could do away with all those nasty side effects. Now, it seems that we can.

Not that I was quick on the draw to recognize that fact. The Israeli company InterCure makes the RESPeRATE device that we can use at home to control high blood pressure. I've know about it for years and actually once blocked its ads on my website because one of my advisers didn't like the testimonials on InterCure's site.

Now that we have taken a closer look at RESPeRATE we realize how wrong we were. Sorry about that.

When you use this little device, which looks to me like a blood glucose meter on steroids, you put on the headphones and attach the sensor around your chest. The sensor automatically analyzes the way you breathe and creates a melody for you that has inhale and exhale guiding tones. You just listen to the melody, taking advantage of your body's natural tendency to follow the rhythms that you hear, so you synchronize your breathing to the tones.

RESPeRATE gradually extends the exhalation tone, which slows your breathing down to less than 10 breaths per minute. This is the healthy range, so in a few minutes the muscles surrounding the small blood vessels relax and your blood flows more freely. You only need to use RESPeRATE for 15 minutes a day a few times a week. The result -- you have significantly reduced your blood pressure without drugs.
While the company offered to loan me a unit, I declined. Unlike most people who have diabetes, my blood pressure has always been normal. In fact, it's now below normal because of a side effect of a drug that I curently take to help me control my BPH (enlarged prostate).

But most people who have diabetes also have high blood pressure. That's why doctors consider these conditions to be two parts of the metabolic syndrome.

Instead of testing the unit myself, I read the professional articles on RESPeRATE. Ten separate clinical studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals show that RESPeRATE significantly lowers high blood press. Typically, people are able to reduce it by 14/8 (systolic pressure over diastolic pressure). The top 10 percent were able to reduce their blood pressure by an average of 36/20 points within eight weeks.

Because company officers wrote or co-authored many of the studies, I limited my review to those publications free of potential conflict of interest. I found three and a detailed review by the California Technology Assessment Forum.

The California technology assessment concluded that the effects of using the RESPeRATE for eight weeks may persist afterwards and that people with high blood pressure can learn how to use it with the written instructions. The forum recommended that people who are otherwise healthy and aren't pregnant could use RESPeRATE.
Six Italian doctors also studied the "Nonpharmacologic treatment of hypertension by respiratory exercise in the home setting" with 47 treated patients and 26 controls. The study, reported in The American Journal of Hypertension, concluded that RESPeRATE has, "an antihypertensive effect that can be seen in conditions closer to daily life than the setting of the physician's office."

The third study is a case report. It concludes that using RESPeRATE routinely "to guide slow breathing significantly lowers office BP without adverse effects."

The fourth study is in Korean, which is a little too difficult for me. Fortunately, the abstract is in English. The study by seven Korean doctors, "Effect of Device-guided Breathing Exercise on Blood Pressure Control: Korean Multi-center Study," appeared in a 2006 issue of the Korean Hypertension Journal. The abstract concluded that the multi-center study of 70 people with high blood pressure showed that RESPeRATE "is an effective and safe non-pharmacological and anti-hypertensive treatment with good compliance."

The Food and Drug Administration in July 2002 cleared the RESPeRATE device for us to use. You can get it over-the-counter or by prescription.

It's not cheap. InterCure offers it on the website for $299.95. But if the drugs for high blood pressure aren't working well for you or you can't tolerate their side effects, RESPeRATE is a lot better than the other alternative.