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Using a device that strengthens breathing muscles for just five minutes a day may help lower blood pressure, according to a small study.
Inspiratory muscle strength training (IMST) uses a small handheld device that provides resistance as you inhale and exhale. It was originally developed for people with serious lung conditions to strengthen their breathing muscles. Researchers tested the device on 36 older adults with elevated blood pressure. Half did high-resistance IMST for five minutes, six days a week, while the others did a low-resistance breathing program for comparison.
After six weeks, systolic blood pressure (the first number in a reading) dropped by an average of nine points among those who did the treatment. This benefit appeared to stem from improvements in blood vessel function and increases in nitric oxide, a molecule that helps widen arteries. According to the authors, IMST may offer benefits similar to exercise but in far less time. Although the training appears to be safe, people should consult a doctor before trying the device. The findings appeared June 29, 2021, in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
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