Israeli device lowers blood pressure with music

American doctors say RESPeRATE will have a major impact on how high blood pressure is treated.We all know that music pleases and soothes us – but a revolutionary new Israeli device has demonstrated that musical tones hold the power to …

American doctors say RESPeRATE will have a major impact on how high blood pressure is treated.We all know that music pleases and soothes us – but a revolutionary new Israeli device has demonstrated that musical tones hold the power to lower our blood pressure as well.

The device, RESPeRATE is the first non-prescription medical device clinically proven to lower blood pressure with no side effects, according to its makers, Israeli company InterCure. The device, a little bit larger than a portable CD player, has received Food and Drug Administration approval for over-the-counter sale in the United States.

“RESPeRATE is going to make the average American physician, who prescribes hypertension treatment, as aware of the connection between controlled breathing and overall physical health as the people of the Far East.” said InterCure co-founder Erez Gavish. “There are 50 million Americans with high blood pressure, and hundreds of medicines. RESPeRATE is that first instrument that goes beyond medicine that can successfully lower blood pressure.”

Dr.Henry Black, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center (Chicago, Illinois), and a member of InterCure’s advisory board calls RESPeRATE it both an important new option for treating high blood pressure but also “a whole new therapeutic class” of treatment. “Physicians and patients have long been searching for an additional, effective non-drug therapy,” said Black. RESPeRATE, he said, “will have a major impact on how high blood pressure is treated.”

The device is attached by wires to a small sensor and a set of ordinary earphones. One of two computers inside the little machine processes information gathered by the sensor to determine the wearer’s breathing rate; the other composes a series of musical tones which the patient uses to guide and eventually lower the rhythm of his or her breathing. The brain, Gavish said, interprets long breaths, specifically extended exhalation, as a signal to for it to dilate blood vessels so that blood flows more freely, which in turn lowers blood pressure.

According to one InterCure projection, sales in the U.S. alone could reach $20 million in 2004, and $100 million in 2005.

Gavish’s brother and co-founder of Intercure Benny Gavish told The Jerusalem Report why RESPeRATE is preferable to drugs to combat hypertension.

“First of all, it is not a drug, so there are no negative side effects or dangerous drug interaction risks,” he says. “Secondly, a patient can’t “cheat”, since all of the usage and breathing data is recorded. A doctor who prescribes a medication cannot be absolutely sure the patient took the drug. In this case, they can.”

The device is based on a realization which came to Benny Gavish, a biophysicist, in the mid-1980s, of music’s effect on breathing, and its eventual effect on the circulatory system. First he tried his theory on his wife’s headaches. A subsequent trial used synthesizers to alter the breathing rates of health club members.

RESPeRATE is relatively simple to use: Patients attach a sensor on an elastic band around the abdominal area. The sensor’s patented technology, which InterCure developed, calculates the wearer’s breathing rate by the expansion and contraction of the body, and transmits it to the main unit. The RESPeRATE device, which is light enough to take on a jog, records that rate, composes a series of individualized musical notes (beginning with two primary tones, one for inhalation and one for exhalation) and transmits them to an attached speaker or headphones.

Once the main computer-processor detects that the wearer has learned to regulate his or her breathing, it begins to change the tempo of its “music.” The tones become more complex as the device senses the user’s response, adding additional instruments and layers of notes.

“Breathing rates do not adhere to music standards, but using music to control breathing was the key to the success of the product,” Gavish told The Report. InterCure even hired a Hebrew University music professor to consult on the notes, “and we developed software that could produce music that would be completely dynamic, and not limited to conventional rhythms.”

Each daily session with the device lasts about 15 minutes, and Gavish says that a person with hypertension will see tangible results within three weeks. In addition, the device itself produces a record of treatment – for interpretation by a physician.

“Currently, we’re engaged in a direct to consumer campaign now – advising the public them to ‘go to your doctor and ask them about RESPeRATE,’ Erez Gavish told Israel21c. ” We provide complete programs to train doctors and the feedback has been positive. We’re also involved with making a link campaign with the American Diabetes Society and the American Heart Society. 60% of diabetes sufferers also have high blood pressure, and the conventional medicines to treat one problem often adversely affect the other problem. RESPeRATE is the ideal solution for them.”

The RESPeRATE device is not the only recent Israeli innovation in the field of treating high blood pressure. The Israeli company Ninbar has developed an accurate non-invasive electro-optics device that give automatic measurements of blood pressure in the home or medical setting. This portable device can overcome the limitations of manual blood pressure devices and other automatic devices.

According to Ninbar’s Prof. Meir Nitzan, current automatic non-invasive blood pressure meters are not reliable enough or accurate enough for clinical use. Ninbar`s first device, a cuff-based blood pressure meter, measures cardiac-induced blood volume changes in the finger during cuff deflation.

Now, in conjunction with its cuff-based meter, Ninbar is developing a cuffless monitor, which measures several hemodynamic parameters, since changes in arterial blood pressure are accompanied with changes in the arterial system. Several studies have shown that blood pressure can be monitored by measuring arterial parameters in the finger once initial calibration is made through the cuff-based meter. This portable monitor will be used for 24-hour patient monitoring and through telemedicine.