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September 30, 1974

Hypotension Following Hyperventilation

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1974;229(14):1866. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230520014015

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To the Editor.—  In reference to the letters by Dr. John F. Burnum (229:521, 1974), Dr. Harry F. Klinefelter (226:81, 1973), and Dr. J. Belogorsky (227:77, 1973), may I suggest a more plausible physiological and biochemical explanation for the drop in blood pressure following hyperventilation.I have taught a large number of hypertensive patients to perform guided diaphragmatic breathing exercises as the major part of their treatment, with good results. They responded well, both to hyperventilation of about 20 exhalations per minute and (some even better) to the practice of guided, slow diaphragmatic breathing with a rate of 6 or less exhalations per minute.My hypothesis for the good results:

  1. Guided, slow diaphragmatic breathing with glottis well open will direct the incoming air plus the atmospheric pressure more directly into the terminal bronchioles and to the terminal vagus (parasympathetic) nerve endings. An increased stretching and stimulation of the thousands