Hypertension, Heart Disease, Migraine Headaches, Panic Attacks
Module 8A. Restrictions, side effects, limits, and temporary contraindications
(Learning the Buteyko method by modules)
Depending on the severity and type of the condition and some other personal factors, many of these patients can worsen their health state if they try common or intensive breathing sessions accompanied by quick CO2 increase. Predisposed patients can develop even higher blood pressure, panic attacks, and migraine headaches.
Even CP measurement can trigger negative cardiovascular changes in some heart patients. Note that other groups of people can do breath holds without any negative effects, but blood vessels of some heart patients can constrict due to too quick changes in blood gas composition. This effect was known to Dr. K. Buteyko who described it in his medical publication in the 1960’s.
Many of these patients (with heart disease, migraine headaches, or panic attacks) can do the same breathing exercises (with the DIY breathing device and the reduced breathing developed by Dr. Buteyko). However, in order to be safe, it is better for these people to start with lighter forms of breathing exercises.
When using the DIY breathing device:
1. Follow the guidelines outlined in the book "Amazing DIY Breathing Device".
When doing Buteyko breathing exercises, various pauses and reduced breathing:
If you feel uncomfortable/overstressed after doing the CP test and any other pauses (including maximum and extended pauses) and your heart rate gets higher (3-5 min after the test), do not do any breath holds. It is a known effect that some groups of people get a different cardiovascular response to sudden and sharp changes in arterial CO2. Breathing sessions and exercises should lead to higher CP, lower heart rate and improved feeling of well-being. Hence, you need to adjust your breathing exercises to your current (temporary) state by avoiding uncomfortable pauses and focusing on reduced breathing.
Your goal for Buteyko breathing exercises is to reduce heart rate after the session. Start with the relaxation of the diaphragm exercise that does not create any sensation of air hunger. Practice this exercise for several days and then try the CP test. Later you can proceed to more demanding exercises and start practicing reduced breathing without any pauses (as it is described on the web page Learn Buteyko reduced breathing).
When breathing, after some days/weeks of practice becomes lighter, ability to do pauses is improved (you can safely do, for example, the CP measurement) and they are safe and useful to do. For example, with over 20 s CP such people are comfortable doing the CPs and even practicing reduced breathing immediately after the CP without any unpleasant sensations. Then you can practice a regular Buteyko breathing exercise session.
When such students (panic attacks, heart disease, or migraine headaches) get over 30 s CP, no restrictions are usually necessary, extended and maximum pauses are safe, and these students can join the main group in further breathing normalization.
Keep in mind, that at any stage, it is important that you feel better after the breathing sessions and your heart rate should become lower either immediately after the breathing session or 5-10 minutes later.
Important note for patients with high blood pressure
Within 3-4 days after starting breathing retraining hypertensives experience better quality of life (more energy, better concentration, alertness, sleep and digestion). However, they often experience an increase in blood pressure (up to 20-30 mm Hg) during first 5-7 days of breathing retraining. During the following 2-6 weeks their blood pressure gets back to normal. It is very important for them to practice regularly.
When practicing the relaxation of the diaphragm (special Buteyko breathing exercise for patients with high blood pressure), these patients should not try to create any air hunger or sensation of shortage of air.
These restrictions and conditions are for people with:
Heart disease (aortic aneurysms; angina pectoris; arrhythmia; atherosclerosis (plaque buildup); cardiomyopathy; ciliary arrhythmia (cardiac fibrillation); chest pain (angina pectoris); high cholesterol; chronic ischemia; congenital heart disease; congestive heart failure; coronary artery disease; endocarditis; extrasystole; heart murmurs; hypertension; hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; pericarditis; post-myocardial infarction; stroke; tachycardia)
Migraine headaches and panic attacks
Reference pages: Breathing norms and medical facts:
- Breathing norms: Parameters, graph, and description of the normal breathing pattern
- 6 breathing myths: Myths and superstitions about breathing and body oxygenation (prevalence: over 90%)
- Hyperventilation: Definitions of hyperventilation: their advantages and weak points
- Hyperventilation syndrome: Western scientific evidence about prevalence of chronic hyperventilation in patients with chronic conditions (37 medical studies)
- Normal minute ventilation: Small and slow breathing at rest is enjoyed by healthy subjects (14 studies)
- Hyperventilation prevalence: Present in over 90% of normal people (24 medical studies)
- HV and hypoxia: How and why deep breathing reduces oxygenation of cells and tissues of all vital organs
- Body-oxygen test (CP test) : How to measure your own breathing and body oxygenation (two in one) using a simple DIY test
- Body oxygen in healthy: Results for the body-oxygen test for healthy people (27 medical studies)
- Body oxygen in sick : Results for the body-oxygen test for sick people (14 medical studies)
- Buteyko Table of Health Zones: Clinical description and ranges for breathing zones: from the critically ill (severely sick) up to super healthy people with maximum possible body oxygenation
- Morning hyperventilation: Why people feel worse and critically ill people are most likely to die during early morning hours
References: pages about CO2 effect:
- Vasodilation: CO2 expands arteries and arterioles facilitating perfusion (or blood supply) to all vital organs
- The Bohr effect: How and why oxygen is released by red blood cells in tissues
- Cell oxygen levels: How alveolar CO2 influences oxygen transport
- Oxygen transport: O2 transport is controlled by vasoconstriction-vasodilation and the Bohr effects, both of which rely on CO2
- Free radical generation: Reactive oxygen species are produced within cells due to anaerobic cell respiration caused by cell hypoxia
- Inflammatory response: Chronic inflammation in fueled by the hypoxia-inducible factor 1, while normal breathing reduces and eliminates inflammation
- Nerve stabilization: People remain calm due to calmative or sedative effects of carbon dioxide in neurons or nerve cells
- Muscle relaxation: Relaxation of muscle cells is normal at high CO2, while hypocapnia causes muscular tension, poor posture and, sometimes, aggression and violence
- Bronchodilation: Dilation of airways (bronchi and bronchioles) is caused by carbon dioxide, and their constriction by hypocapnia (low CO2)
- Blood pH: Regulation of blood pH due to breathing and regulation of other bodily fluids
- CO2: lung damage: Elevated carbon dioxide prevents lung injury and promotes healing of lung tissues
- CO2: Topical carbon dioxide can heal skin and tissues
- Synthesis of glutamine in the brain, CO2 fixation, and other chemical reactions
- Deep breathing myth: Ignorant and naive people promote the idea that deep breathing and breathing more air at rest is beneficial for health
- Breathing control: How is our breathing regulated? Why hypocapnia makes breathing uneven, irregular and erratic.
Go back to: Learning the Buteyko method by modules
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