Singing is Soothing

Singing influences hypertension and blood pressure

(RxWiki News) Before performing knee replacement surgery, doctors had to get the patient's blood pressure under control.

A 76-year-old woman did not respond to the usual drug treatments.

However, after she sang a few religious songs, her blood pressure dropped dramatically.

This 76-year-old woman from the Dominican Republic with hypertension and high blood pressure was about to undergo a total knee replacement surgery.  Just before surgery, her blood pressure increased significantly and the doctors had to delay the surgery.

She knew that singing helped her to calm down, so she asked the doctors if she could sing. After singing several songs, her blood pressure dropped from dangerously high levels down to safer levels.

dailyRx Insight: Singing may help lower your blood pressure.

After a night of singing, the elderly women went through with the knee replacement surgery and came out without any complications.

According to Nina Niu, a researcher from Harvard Medical School and lead author of this case study, some previous studies have shown that listening to music may help lower blood pressure by calming or distracting patients before the go into surgery.

The calming effect can reduce stress and anxiety, two risk factors for high blood pressure. Niu explains that her team's case study builds on these past studies by showing that not only listening but producing music can be helpful before surgery.

Niu concludes that patients should be encouraged to sing if they want, as singing is free, safe, and easy. However, she adds, researchers need to build much larger studies before singing can be considered an alternative therapy.

It is estimated that close to 30% of the United States population has high blood pressure (hypertension), or about 90 million people. Blood pressure is measured as the force the pumping blood exerts on the walls of the arteries in the body. When this pressure is higher than normal (120/80 mmHg), patients are at risk for heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, and aneurysms in the arteries and brain. Even moderate high blood pressure can lead to a shortened life expectancy. Most high blood pressure is asymptomatic, and is discovered during a routine checkup. As blood pressure reaches dangerously high levels, some people may experience symptoms such as headache, ringing in the ears, visual changes, and irregular heartbeat. These symptoms are a medical emergency. At particularly high risk for high blood pressure are African Americans, people who are obese, smokers, diabetics, having high salt intake, and having a family history. Alcohol abuse and cocaine use can also cause hypertension. Diagnosis is made by measuring blood pressure over several doctors visits, and is treated by lifestyle modification first, such as smoking cessation, weight loss, dietary changes, and exercise. There are hundreds of different medications to treat hypertension, such as beta-blockers (Lopressor, Inderal), diuretics (Diamox, HydroDiuril), Calcium channel blockers (Norvasc, Procardia), and ACE inhibitors (Lotensin, Vasotec, Capoten).

The case study is published in the April 2011 issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

Review Date: 
March 30, 2011