How can a product that often does what it is designed to do be considered a sham?
That's the question that I asked myself as I sat down to write this review of the Resperate Blood Pressure Reduction system. For anyone with higher than normal blood pressure readings, you've probably been bombarded with advertisements for this device. You see it everywhere on the Internet. It's a small electronic device that looks like a CD player, and its built-in tunes and a breathing sensor help you slow down your breathing. With regular use, it is designed to make a dent in your high blood pressure readings.
So the questions I asked when I checked out Resperate for review were, 1) Does it work? and, 2) Is it worth the money?
With regards to the first question, I did get a small reduction in my blood pressure readings. But, the second part of my question, the "is it worth it" part, is so flagrantly out of kilter with reality that I believe it moves Resperate into the category of a sham. This is one little $50 or $75 product that has ballooned out of proportion (due to the costs of marketing and advertising) into a $300 medical device.
When your small positive effect is counterbalanced by a huge ding in your checkbook, I believe this can still represent a SHAM. Others may feel differently.
Here's how it works . . . the Resperate device helps you to slow your breathing down by monitoring your breaths and telling you to breath with the little "tune" it generates (you have a choice of several of these little musical passages). The tune slows down, as does your breathing, until you've moved from 12 or 15 breaths per minute to 4 or 5. This "therapeutic breathing zone" has been shown in meditation to reduce blood pressure, so it is indeed based upon science. And for some people who just can't mediate any other way, perhaps Resperate is the way to go.
But, as my doctor told me, you can buy a CD to slow your breathing down, such as "Ken Cohen's Guide to Healthy Breathing" for about $12. The difference between this CD and the Resperate is that the device guides you through it. For some people, perhaps this is worth the additional $280. I may have considered keeping the device myself if it hadn't been so visibly a poor value.
When you receive Resperate, it's clearly not worth the investment by its outer appearance. Like many guys, I'm a gadget nut. When I buy a $300+ electronic goodie, I'm expecting a certain level of quality. After opening the box and seeing those less-than-airline-quality headphones included, my impression went downhill fast.
In this case, the first Resperate unit didn't work at all and had to be returned. Then, I started noticing that the device (which resembles a $20 or $25 WalMart portable CD player) had some real design problems. The chintzy cable for the chest sensor is wired directly inside the case instead of plugging into a jack so that it could be replaced when its 2¢ cable frays and breaks. When cables break on Resperate, the whole unit is dead in the water. And the headphone jack on mine had to be held in just a certain way in order to get the sound, because it was shorted out.
The long and the short of this "sham" is that while the device may do what it says it will do for some people, there remains a big caveat. The savvy shopper will invest $12 first as opposed to $300. Resperate is simply a good $50 idea with an added $250 in marketing costs, (sadly) picked up by the consumer.
I'll stick to the CD, thanks Resperate.