Recent research has found a significant connection between migraines, visual auras, strokes and heart attacks but there is no clear understanding why this should be so. The risks are still very low but the connection appears stronger than the link between obesity, high blood pressure and heart attacks & strokes.
The link could well be a health problem that is hardly ever diagnosed and rarely treated when it is, that is, chronic hidden hyperventilation or CHHV. Maybe the reason for the neglect of this health risk is in the name? We would rarely notice just a small increase in breathing rate, volume of air breathed with each breath and occasional sighs, yawns or mouth breathing but all these can add up to changing the volume of air we breathe from 5-6 litres per minute to over 12-15 litres per minute.
CHHV is simply chronic habitual over-breathing, usually just a bad habit that has crept up on us slowly and insidiously due to a number of stressors in our modern lives. These include emotional stress, traumas both physical & emotional, over-eating, the stress of illnesses, living in over heated houses, etc.
The key to understanding this problem was discovered by Professor Konstantin Buteyko, a Russian doctor, over 30 years ago and again recognized and treated by a great British doctor and respirologist, Professor Claud Lum of Papworth Hospital back in the 80′s. CHHV arises from the frequent and repeated primitive response to stressors during our lives, called the Fight/Flight Response. In Professor Buteyko’s opinion CHHV also arises in part from our modern Western lifestyle.
The effect of CHHV on our health is profound and according to Professor Buteyko may be the underlying cause of many modern diseases.
The physiological effects of this include, spasm of smooth muscle wrapped around our arteries causing restricted blood flow & hence the need for a higher blood pressure, impaired release of oxygen from the blood (the Bohr effect), and one of the Fight/Flight reactions of the body is increased clotting of the blood (presumably a protection against bleeding from injuries). The accumulated effect of these reactions means up to 50% less oxygen getting to the brain that may show as migraines, increased blood pressure to overcome the increased arterial resistance and increased liability to form blood clots.
To understand the whole complex physiology readers might watch the video on this site HERE.
Michael Lingard BSc DO BBEC