Slow breathing is an integral part of many ancient practices such as yoga and meditation, many of which claim to bring calmness and to bestow other health benefits.

Recently, scientists have begun to study the physiological responses to slow breathing, which creates a wide range of immediate effects. These effects range from changes in the early activity of specific areas of the brain, to alterations in the way
that the heart pumps blood.

A large number of studies have also tested whether daily practice of yoga and other forms of slow breathing can lower blood pressure long term. The results so far are very promising, but inconsistent. The scientists at BU think this might be because of the way that slow breathing has been practiced in these studies, i.e., with no standardisation of the slow breathing method.

BU’s researchers have identified that the effects of slow breathing on the pumping action of the heart differ between people. They have therefore developed the Brythm App, which personalises breathing rate so you can “breathe at your own rhythm”, thereby optimising the short and long term effects for each individual.

What next?

The next phase of the research is to test whether using Brythm every day helps to reduce blood pressure.


Our research

Around 30% of the UK population has high blood pressure (hypertension). Research on the blood pressure lowering capacity of slow breathing is very promising, but is too inconsistent for it to be recommended as a routine treatment for hypertension. By understanding how breathing influences the heart and the rest of the cardiovascular system, we have been able to develop a method that personalises the slow breathing rate, enhancing its effects. Brythm is the culmination of many years of research and development, and if found to be effective, could be a ‘game changing’ treatment for hypertension.

Professor Alison McConnell, Brythm co-creator and Leader of the Brythm research team

The Brythm Team

Brythm was created by experts in their fields.

Professor Alison McConnell

Brythm co-creator and Leader of the Brythm research team

The study team is led by Professor Alison McConnell who is co-inventor of Brythm, and who’s research underpins the development of the unique, patent-pending Brythm algorithm. Alison is a cardiorespiratory physiologist with over 30-years experience of laboratory research. Alison brings specific expertise in integrative human physiology, as well as the pathophysiology of respiratory and cardiovascular disease. She also brings experience of translating her research into the real world, as she is the inventor of an NHS approved range of inspiratory muscle trainers.

Professor Vanora Hundley

Professor of Midwifery, Bournemouth University

As Professor of Midwifery, Vanora brings clinical research expertise to the team. She has developed a strong network of maternity service users that will ensure patient and public involvement (PPI) throughout the research. She is an adviser to a number of national and international maternity bodies and this will help to ensure that the research is widely disseminated in the maternal health field.

Malika Felton

PhD Student, Bournemouth University

Malika is a PhD student within the team investigating the effects of the Brythm App upon women who have pregnancy-induced hypertension. She is currently completing her second study examining the short-term effects of slow and deep breathing upon pregnant women, after completing her first study with healthy non-pregnant women of childbearing age. Malika is also a research assistant for the other current Brythm research studies.

Stephanie Grigsby

Research Midwife, Poole Hospital and Research Project Manager, Bournemouth University

Steph is a midwife with sixteen years of clinical experience within maternity services across both high and low risk care. She developed the maternity research service at Poole Hospital and with six current studies actively recruiting antenatal women she has had the help of an additional research midwife since August 2017. Her role within the Brythm team is to recruit to the Brythm feasibility study which will ensure that the App has been tried and tested in ‘real world conditions’ and that the data gathered can be extracted and analysed effectively. She will also be assisting Malika with the antenatal elements of her future studies.​

Commercial enquiries

Brythm is driven by a patent pending algorithm. If you think this algorithm might add value to one of your own products, or if you’d like to explore whether BU’s expertise in cardiorespiratory physiology could help your business, please get in touch and we’d be happy to discuss this with you.