POWERbreathe IMST is a natural home remedy to lower blood pressure. Research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association from the University of Colorado, Boulder found that the POWERbreathe K3 IMST device lowered blood pressure and reduced heart attack risk. We’ll talk you through the research findings and explain how you can improve your health with IMST.

What is IMST?

IMST stands for Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training. It is a form of challenging strength training for the muscles you use to breathe in; your inspiratory muscles.

Whereas Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) is scientifically proven to improve inspiratory muscle strength as well as endurance with just 30 breaths twice a day, IMST uses a very challenging protocol of training to elicit more strength from your inspiratory muscles. It trains your inhalation to become far greater than you’ll ever experience during normal daily life or exercise. It is therefore extremely challenging. You can find out what the training protocol is in the section below, Training protocol for lowering blood pressure.

In the Colorado research, participants use the hand-held, drug-free POWERbreathe K3 breathing device to perform IMST. The POWERbreathe device uses resistance to make your inspiratory muscles work harder as you breathe in through it. Because of this, it is affectionately known as the ‘dumbbell for your diaphragm’.

The need for natural remedies to lower blood pressure

People are turning to natural remedies to help lower high blood pressure. This is because easy changes to lifestyle can make a difference. Such changes include getting regular exercise, eating a more healthy diet and stopping smoking. But now, research shows that strengthening your breathing muscles with IMST (Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training) can also help.

Slow, deep breathing, such as diaphragmatic breathing, can help to lower blood pressure. This is because it stimulates the Parasympathetic Nervous System which is responsible for conserving energy and digestion, as well as slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure. In fact, from a young age, we’re encouraged to take a deep breath and count to 10 to help calm us down. So it’s no surprise that breathing training to help lower blood pressure is proving to be so newsworthy. Think of the IMST device as a piece of exercise equipment that is designed to strengthen your breathing muscles but with a side effect that helps to lower blood pressure.

How to lower blood pressure naturally with POWERbreathe IMST

One of the key findings of the research is that just 30 breaths of POWERbreathe IMST (about five minutes) will lower blood pressure. Crucially, researchers report significant drops in blood pressure and improvements in large-artery function. In fact, their findings show that about 5-minutes of IMST lowers blood pressure as much as aerobic exercise and more than some medications. Findings also show POWERbreathe IMST to be safe, and tolerable, with excellent adherence to the training programme.

Training protocol for lowering blood pressure

The IMST research participants used the POWERbreathe K3 IMST device to perform 30 inspiratory manoeuvres, taking approximately 5-minutes (5 sets of 6 breaths-in, with 1‐minute rest between sets), 6 days per week, for 6 weeks.

However, their first week of training was at 55% PIMAX which is quite hard, hence 6 breath-sets and a 1 minute rest before continuing. Then, during week 2, training was 65% PIMAX, and finally 75% PIMAX during weeks 3 to 6. Researchers feel that by doing this for 5 minutes a day in the comfort of their own home, people will get health benefits they otherwise might not get.

PIMAX stands for maximal inspiratory pressure and is a measure of inspiratory muscle strength, but primarily the diaphragm, as this is the main inspiratory muscle.

Other health benefits of IMST

Results show that not only did the IMST group lower their blood pressure but they also improved blood vessel health. They also performed better on certain cognitive and memory tests. Furthermore, they were able to keep their heart rate and oxygen consumption lower during exercise. Consequently, the IMST group demonstrated an increase in exercise tolerance too. In fact, previous research confirms improvements in exercise tolerance and sports performance. Along with the latest findings, is also a thoroughly absorbing associated editorial discussing how,

“taking a deep, resisted, breath offers a new and unconventional way to generate the benefits of exercise and physical activity.”

Journal of the American Heart Association

Best IMST device for lowering blood pressure

The POWERbreathe K3 is the IMST device that the research finds to be a promising home remedy to lower blood pressure. The research also investigates its potential for helping you to think more clearly and for boosting sports performance.

POWERbreathe K-Series

The POWERbreathe K3 offers an easy set-up, is easy to use, and provides easy-to-read training progression without the need for software. It is the ideal IMST device as it records the load, power and volume for each training session and holds a rolling 36 sessions in the memory, so you can monitor your progress.

The electronically tapered flow resistive loading valve constantly monitors and tapers to match your reducing strength throughout the breath. This allows greater flow and maximum breathing volume, providing a more fulfilling and effective breath than traditional threshold pressure devices. It also means that an increase from 55% to 75% maximal inspiratory pressure is more achievable than on a mechanical threshold IMST device, such as the POWERbreathe Plus.

POWERbreathe Plus

The POWERbreathe Plus series of breathing training devices is a more affordable alternative to the electronic POWERbreathe K-Series. Specifically, the POWERbreathe Plus Medium Resistance is an adequate alternative as it provides high resistance to your inspiration. Still, it cannot offer the advanced variable loading that the electronic K-Series can, making it less easy to work out percentage of maximal inspiratory pressure, and it doesn’t provide training feedback.

However, you are still able to use the POWERbreathe Plus for IMST, as it is possible to work out ‘approximately’ the percentage of maximal inspiratory pressure. Firstly, you need to wind up the resistance on your POWERbreathe Plus breathing trainer until you can just about take a full breath-in. Consider this your maximal inspiratory pressure and log the training level. Using this level/breathing load, you can then work out what 55%, 65% and 75% will be.

Basically, in order to achieve results similar to those found in the research, you will need to train your inhalation to become much greater than you’ll ever experience during normal daily life or exercise. So it must be challenging.

POWERbreathe Medic

Because the act of deep breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, using the POWERbreathe Medic breathing trainer could also help you to decrease your heart rate and dilate blood vessels to reduce your overall blood pressure. It is very simple to use and is available for prescription in the UK by the NHS. The scientifically proven training protocol is 30 breaths, twice a day.

The IMST research

The Tests

Participants undertook tests to evaluate:

  • Vascular function (that is how healthy the blood vessels are)
  • Cerebral vascular function (i.e. how healthy the blood vessels in the brain are)
  • Cognitive function
  • Physical performance (VO2 max testing assesses this)
  • Motor function

POWERbreathe IMST lowers casual systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure

Findings from the pilot study show that in both midlife/older men and postmenopausal women with above‐normal systolic blood pressure (SBP),

“high‐resistance IMST lowers casual systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Furthermore, reductions in casual systolic blood pressure are largely maintained at least 6 weeks after training is concluded.”

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.121.020980
Figure 1. Casual systolic blood pressure (SBP) (A) and diastolic BP (DBP) (B) at baseline and after 6 weeks of inspiratory muscle strength training (IMST) or sham training. Data are mean±SEM. *P<0.05 vs baseline. https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.121.020980 PMID: 34184544

In addition to the above findings, IMST also lowers 24‐hour systolic blood pressure. This is when compared to sham training. It also improves vascular endothelial function. Vascular endothelium makes up the inner cellular lining of arteries, veins and capillaries.

POWERbreathe IMST is a promising lifestyle intervention

“Finally… results provide support for high‐resistance IMST as a promising lifestyle intervention for improving cardiovascular function and possibly decreasing the risk of CVD [cardiovascular disease] and other clinical disorders, such as cognitive dysfunction and chronic kidney disease.”

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.121.020980

Learn more about IMST

IMST future research

Assistant Research Professor, Daniel H. Craighead, PhD, is interested in exploring yet further, the long-term effects of POWERbreathe IMST. Of particular interest is whether effects are sustained without IMST, or if a maintenance programme is required.

In the current study, subjects perform IMST for 6 weeks. Thereafter, participants cease to train their inspiratory muscles. A further 6 weeks after ceasing to train, participants’ blood pressure is measured again. During this 6-week layoff from IMST, systolic blood pressure was still 7 mmHg lower than at the start of the study.

“In comparison, systolic blood pressure was 9 mmHg lower than baseline immediately after completing 6 weeks of IMST. This suggests that the BP-lowering effects of IMST are ~75% preserved over 6 weeks. In short, it does appear BP will stay lower for a period of time after doing IMST. I do suspect that BP will eventually increase again, but we don’t yet know how long that will take.”

Assistant Research Professor, Daniel H. Craighead, PhD.

It is conceivable that a programme of less frequent IMST (maybe 3 days/week) could be enough to keep blood pressure low. However, as this research is still very new, future research will need to investigate this.

Learn more about IMT

In addition to using POWERbreathe IMST to help lower blood pressure, the IMT training protocol of just 30 breaths twice a day is already scientifically proven to improve inspiratory muscle strength and stamina and reduce breathing fatigue. This is beneficial in sport and fitness, health and lifestyle, as well as for those in the performing arts.

There is a POWERbreathe IMT breathing trainer suitable for everyone. Find out how the POWERbreathe IMT device works or read more about the types of breathing trainers in What is Inspiratory Muscle Training.