• Dmitri Konash

Best IMST Blood Pressure Apps

Updated: Oct 6


Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training, or IMST  is a proven breathing technique to lower blood pressure. What are the best apps to master IMST? Do you really need an IMST breathing device?
Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training, or IMST is a proven breathing technique to lower blood pressure. What are the best apps to master IMST? Do you really need an IMST breathing device?

Challenges of managing high blood pressure

According to the World Health Organisation over 1.1 billion people across the world suffer from high blood pressure, or hypertension [1]. Most of them use hypertension medicines to address this health challenge and hence are subject to different negative side effects. How do you manage your heart health risks? How often do you use heart rate monitor? What does it mean blood pressure Apple Watch?

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is a higher-than-normal force of blood against walls of blood vessel walls. It forces the heart to work harder and hence creates a risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, i.e. stroke or heart attacks. According to the guidelines of the American College of Cardiology [2], the normal blood pressure is under 120/80 mm HG.

IMPORTANT: The only reliable way to take a blood pressure reading is to use an external blood pressure monitor. Some heart rate monitor apps indicate that they may provide an estimation of blood pressure but this is simply not correct. The current state of mobile technology doesn't allow for mobile apps to measure blood pressure.

This applies to all heart rate monitor apps and also blood pressure watch. Heart monitors take pulse readings and sometimes also heart rate variability values but they cannot take blood pressure readings. As of October 2022 Apple Watch doesn't take blood pressure readings. Also all wrist based blood pressure monitors are less accurate than traditional monitors where an inflatable calf is located on the upper arm.

How to lower blood pressure immediately?

Here are the scientifically proven natural ways to reduce high blood pressure long term: manage weight, become physically active, eat healthy food, enjoy adequate sleep and manage stress.

However, it does take time to reduce your weight or benefit from a healthy diet. What if you want to lower blood pressure quickly at home? There are also scientifically proven natural ways of doing this: slow breathing exercises, meditation to lower blood pressure, acupressure for high blood pressure, lower blood pressure music. Always talk to your doctor about integrating these exercises in your overall hypertension treatment plan.
Why breathing to lower blood pressure?

Slow breathing exercises have been known for many years to help lower high blood pressure [3]. You can try a 4-7-8 breathing or box breathing exercises to lower blood pressure yourself and observe their positive impact. Take your blood pressure reading with a blood pressure monitor before and 10 minutes after the exercise and see the results for yourself.




What is exactly IMST breathing and why it helps lower blood pressure?

A recent study published in the Journal of American Heart Association [5], demonstrates ​​high effectiveness of Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST) to lower blood pressure. The exercises require 30 deep breaths to lower blood pressure done over 5 minutes and repeated for 6 weeks.

IMST boosts vascular health, and potentially reduces your chances of developing serious cardiovascular disease. IMST is a form of training specifically created to exercise the diaphragm and other breathing muscles. Researchers used an IMST device that provides resistance when someone inhales through it.

Breathing exercise made easy

Originally developed in the 1980s for those who suffer from respiratory issues, IMST breathing exercise requires you to inhale really hard. This is why researchers used a special device that provides resistance. As we show later however, you can achieve similar positive results of lower blood pressure with resistance breathing through a pinched nose without an IMST breathing device.

The researchers assembled 36 healthy volunteers between the ages of 50 and 79 with healthy blood pressure numbers. Half the group were assigned to do high-resistance IMST. The other half of the group also did IMST for 1.5 months, but were effectively given a placebo: they used low-resistance versions of the device.

Those who did the more intense form of breathing exercise had a 9-point drop in their systolic blood pressure, "a reduction which generally exceeds that achieved by walking 30 minutes a day five days a week," say the study authors. "That decline is also equal to the effects of some blood pressure-lowering drug regimens."

Does IMST breathing exercise without a device really work?

Our tests show that IMST breathing exercise could be performed without a device. How does it work? Just restrict airflow through your nostrils with your thumbs while inhaling. Keep your mouth closed while breathing in. Exhale freely. It should be very difficult to inhale. You should be able to take just about ¼ of the air as compared to your regular deep inhale and you should feel your diaphragm rising.

I have not conducted a formal research on this but every time I was doing this exercise over four weeks it DID result in reducing my Systolic blood pressure by 5-9 points. Check out the video below which explains the technique in detail and includes a 5 Min follow along exercise.




Please let me know in the comments how this exercise worked for you. Or ask a question on the main page if you would like more personalised instructions.

How apps can help with IMST breathing exercise?

Once you tried IMST breathing without a device by following our YouTube video, you may consider exploring mobile apps which could deliver a similar experience off-line. Here are the main reasons why breathing apps are becoming very popular these days for users looking for a convenient way to use breathing exercises to lower blood pressure.

- Breathing apps allow to enjoy breathing exercises without connecting to internet.

- Breathing exercise apps include a selection of breathing exercises to choose from, i.e. box breathing or 4-7-8 breathing.

-Regular blood pressure apps, like the popular SmartBP app, allow users only to track their blood pressure numbers. They do not provide techniques to lower blood pressure immediately.

- Best apps offer also an opportunity to reduce stress, heart rate and blood pressure by applying relaxation techniques like slow breathing, meditation and more.

Best IMST Breathing Apps To Lower Blood Pressure

There are many manufactures which produce breathing devices which can be used for IMST breathing exercises. One of the most popular is PowerBreathe. This manufacturer produces breathing devices for Health, Sports and Performing Arts. Their Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) device is scientifically proven to reduce breathing fatigue and increase breathing stamina in a wide range of people. From patients with respiratory illness to elite athletes – anyone can benefit from these breathing exercise devices.


IMST breathing


For some reason only a few app publishers promote IMST breathing to lower blood pressure. As of October 2022 I found only two apps on the market which include IMST breathing exercise.


IMST

Aerofit Pro (™) is one of them. It is actually a combination of a device and virtual coach app. It is positioned as a lung exercise device. It comes with many bells and whistles and as expected for this kind of complex device it comes with a quite a steep price tag.

The breathing exercise offering comes with different levels of resistance that can be easily calibrated.

I hope that by now you have tried IMST breathing exercise without a device and are quite happy with the results. What happens if you would like to have a better user experience while doing this exercise? In this case you should definitely explore our BreathNow app.


blood pressure app and heart rate monitor
BreathNow blood pressure app


BreathNow is a blood pressure app, heart risk analyser and heart rate monitor in one. It offers users not only a convenient way to log and track their blood pressure and pulse, but also offers a broad set of calming activities which help to lower anxiety, stress, pulse and high blood pressure without medications. It includes the most popular breathing exercises like 4-7-8 breathing, box breathing and of course IMST breathing without a device to lower blood pressure. Heart monitor of BreathNow also measure changes in stress level through the heart rate variability.


BreathNow helps to address heart  health risks and includes pulse oximeter
BreathNow helps to address heart health risks


The new feature, Todays Insights, introduced in August 2022 alerts users to different heart health risks. The app pulls the data from users' Apple Health account and checks anomalies in resting heart rate, systolic blood pressure, number of daily steps, average sleep time, low blood oxygen (based on Apple Watch pulse oximeter inputs) and irregular heart rhythm (also based on Apple Watch inputs).

IMPORTANT: None of the blood pressure apps on the market, BreathNow included, allow you to take blood pressure readings without an external blood pressure monitor. The good news is that most modern blood pressure monitors can be connected to Apple Health via Bluetooth. In this case blood pressure readings are downloaded into your Apple Health account and then smoothly shared with BreathNow.


Blood pressure Apple Watch
Breathing exercises on Apple Watch


The other neat feature of BreathNow is that breathing exercises can be performed on Apple Watch. This is especially important in a busy environment or if you want to fall asleep faster with the help of Apple Watch. In this case the Apple Watch will guide your breathing with gentle vibration and it will fall asleep after you do.

Please try this app for free on the Apple Appstore and let me know in the comments how it worked for you. Please remember that this app includes also free heart rate monitor and shows Afib alerts from your Apple Watch.
REFERENCES
1. World Health Organization on Hypertension.

2. New ACC/AHA High Blood Pressure Guidelines Lower Definition of Hypertension,

3. Slow Deep Breathing Reduces High Blood Pressure In Hypertensive Patients

4. Efficient Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training Lowers Blood Pressure and Improves Endothelial Function, NO Bioavailability, and Oxidative Stress in Midlife/Older Adults With Above Normal Blood Pressure, Journal of American Heart Association,
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