Resperate: Can it help reduce blood pressure?

Resperate is a portable electronic device that promotes slow, deep breathing. Resperate is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. It's available without a prescription.

Resperate uses chest sensors to measure your breathing, and then sends the real-time information to a small device you wear as a belt. The device creates a melody for you to listen to and synchronize your breathing. The melody is supposed to help you slow your breathing with long exhalations.

Resperate is intended to be used at least 15 minutes a day, three to four days a week. Within a few weeks, the device-guided slow breathing exercises can help lower both the top (systolic) and bottom (diastolic) numbers in a blood pressure reading.

Current research on Resperate shows that slow breathing (less than 10 breaths per minute) can cause a modest but significant decrease in blood pressure in some people. It's unclear how long the effects last, or if continued use lowers your blood pressure even more. But slow breathing is inexpensive and easy to do, and there are few, if any, side effects. The American Heart Association says slow breathing is an effective add-on treatment for people with high blood pressure. It may be a first option for people at low cardiac risk who don't want to take medications.

If you're considering using Resperate, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to tell you if slow breathing exercises may be helpful in lowering your blood pressure.