Hypertension, Migraine Headaches, and Panic Attacks
Module 8A. Restrictions, side effects, limits, and temporary contraindications
(Learning the Buteyko method by modules)
All these health conditions are successfully treated with breathing
retraining. For example, breathing students with 30 s morning CP have
normal blood pressure naturally (i.e., without medications that reduce blood pressure) even if they suffered from hypertension when they started breathing retraining. Similarly, panic attacks and most (but not all) migraines also disappear with easier breathing 24/7. However, there are certain restrictions for these groups of people before they get to their better health. In fact, 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 (usual) or intensive breathing sessions
accompanied by quick CO2 increases. Predisposed
patients can develop even higher blood
pressure, panic attacks, and migraine headaches
due to (wrong) breathing exercises.
Even CP measurement can trigger negative cardiovascular changes in
some students with hypertension. Note that other groups of people can do breath
holds without any negative effects, but blood vessels of
some students with hypertension
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
publications in the 1960’s.
Many of these patients (with high blood pressure, migraine headaches, or
panic attacks) can safely do and get benefits from the same breathing exercises (with the DIY
breathing device and the reduced breathing developed by Dr. Buteyko).
However, in order to be safe in relation to all students, 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.
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
breathing exercise session.
When such students (panic attacks, heart disease, or migraine
headaches) get over X s morning CP (see details below), no restrictions are usually necessary,
extended and maximum pauses are safe, and these students
can join the main group in further breathing normalization.
You can find out this number X below, as well as the main suggestion that allows these students to temporarily monitor and control effectiveness of their breathing exercises without the CP test.
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 in order to achieve clinical remission (cure) of hypertension.
When practicing the relaxation of the diaphragm (special Buteyko
breathing exercise for patients with high blood pressure), these
patients should avoid 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
- This page in Spanish: La hipertensión, enfermedades del corazón, migrañas, ataques de pánico.
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