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Singing lowers blood pressure before surgery in case study

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Singing lowers blood pressure

Case study shows singing lowered blood pressure when medication failed

An interesting case study shows singing could be a simple and free intervention to help patients get their blood pressure lower before surgery. For one 76 year old woman, singing dramatically reduced blood pressure so she could safely undergo surgery.

The findings are published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research and highlights the potential for therapies other than drugs for bringing blood pressure levels to normal range for patients who might be unresponsive to medications such as beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin blockers and diuretics for hypertension.

Singing and music work to lower blood pressure

Studies suggest listening to music has a calming effect and can lower blood pressure, explains lead author Nina Niu, a researcher from Harvard Medical School in Boston. "Our case study expands on medical evidence by showing that producing music or singing also has potential therapeutic effects in the preoperative setting."

The woman in the study was from the Dominican Republic and had osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee for fifteen years. She had been taking nifedipine, a calcium channel blocker, and lisinopril, and ACE inhibitor, to control blood pressure. The woman had been accepted for knee replacement surgery by the philanthropic program Operation Walk Boston that provides surgical teams for total joint replacement of the hips and knees for Dominican patients unable to pay.

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When the woman was admitted to the hospital her blood pressure was elevated, but controlled at 160/90. Her pre-operative exam revealed a blood pressure was 240/120 and her surgery was postponed. The study authors says getting the patient's blood pressure lower was important because the surgical team was only in the Dominican for a short period of time.

Knee replacement surgery a success, thanks to singing

The woman asked the doctors if she could sing - after two songs her blood pressure came down. She kept singing throughout the night. After the first song, her blood pressure came down to 180/90. With continued singing it was lowered further and the effect was sustained for several hours. She continued singing at intervals throughout the night. The woman was cleared for surgery the next morning and the operation was a success.

"Singing is simple, safe, and free. Patients should be encouraged to sing if they wish. To be formally considered as an alternative therapy for the OA patient population, larger studies are needed to explore the effects of singing on hypertension and chronic pain relief," said Niu.

The study show singing lowers blood pressure and could be further explored as an option for lowering blood pressure and helping patients control pain. For the woman in the case study, singing religious songs kept her blood pressure low enough to safely undergo surgery and the effect was sustained for several hours.

Arthritis Care and Research: DOI: 10.1002/acr.20406
"Singing Intervention for Preoperative Hypertension Prior to Total Joint Replacement: A Case Report"
Nina N. Niu, MarĂ­a Teresa Perez, and Jeffrey N. Katz

Photo credit: morguefile.com