The effects of sighing on the cardiovascular system

Evgeny G. Vaschillo, Bronya Vaschillo, Jennifer F. Buckman, Tam Nguyen-Louie, Sydney Heiss, Robert J. Pandina, Marsha E. Bates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Elicitation of high-amplitude oscillations in the cardiovascular system may serve to dampen psychophysiological reactivity to emotional and cognitive loading. Prior work has used paced breathing to impose clinically valuable high-amplitude ~0.1. Hz oscillations. In this study, we investigated whether rhythmical sighing could likewise produce high-amplitude cardiovascular oscillations in the very low frequency range (0.003-0.05. Hz). ECG, respiration, skin conductance, and beat-to-beat blood pressure were collected in 24 healthy participants during baseline, 0.1. Hz paced breathing, and 0.02. Hz paced sighing (1 sigh every 50. s, with normal breathing interspersed). Results showed that each sigh elicited a strong, well-defined reaction in the cardiovascular system. This reaction did not habituate when participants repeatedly sighed for 8.5. min. The result was a high-amplitude 0.02. Hz oscillation in multiple cardiovascular parameters. Thus, paced sighing is a reliable method for imposing very low frequency oscillations in the cardiovascular system, which has research and clinical implications that warrant further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-95
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychology
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


  • Baroreflex
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Rhythmical sighing
  • Sigh

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