Blood pressure meds going for a song

singing is good for the heart Blood pressure meds going for a songI love whimsical stories, so when I read the case report of the little old lady who was able to lower her blood pressure by belting out a few tunes, I wanted to share it with the readers of my blog.

 PS.  This is not a fire side story but was reported in a medical journal.  The story (in medical journals it is referred to as a case report) appeared in the April issue of Arthritis Care & Research, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).

The little old lady with very high blood pressure

 Okay, I’m not sure if she was little but she was old, 76 years old to be precise and she had very high blood pressure. 

 She was scheduled to have knee replacement surgery for osteoarthritis as part of a programme called Operation Walk Boston. When it came time to perform the operation, her blood pressure was sky high (240/120 mmHg) – making it too risky to do the op.

 The Operation Walk  programme provides medical care for poor Dominican patients  so the medical team is only available for a limited time.  The special circumstances meant it was do or die for her. 

 The doctors tried to get her blood pressure down by using all the usual pre-operative medications i.e. they tried all the drugs that typically lower blood pressure, but unfortunately she did not respond to any of these treatments.

 Since postponing the op would pretty much mean she would never have it, they turned to alternative approaches.  

Listening to music

Several studies have shown that listening to music,  prior to surgery has a calming effect.   It’s thought that by diverting the patient’s attention away from the medical entourage, the stress and anxiety drops pulling the blood pressure down.

Making music

The team took the whole “listening” to music one step further and got the old lady to sing a few tunes.

Actually, it was her idea.  She told the medical team, that she often sang a bit,  to calm herself down and to help her sleep.

A little bit desperate, the team encouraged her to sing.

All it took was two songs and the blood pressure dropped down to 180 / 90 mmHg (still high but low enough to do the op).   A little more singing, at intervals during the night, saw the blood pressure remain at the lower levels.

Happy ending

The lower blood pressure meant they could wheel her into the theatre early the next day.  The surgery was successful and there were no complications.

 She lived happily ever after….. but her blood pressure “medicine” might be useful to all of us.

Before you reach for the pills or the Vodka, try singing

If you’re freaked out and the blood pressure is sky high.

Try a little singing – it just might work.   It is simple, safe and free.

Singing Intervention for Preoperative Hypertension Prior to Total Joint Replacement: A Case Report. Arthritis Care and Research, 63(4):630-632,2011. Nina N. Niu, María Teresa Perez, Jeffrey N. Katz.

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Further reading

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 10 “foods”  that scientists say lower your blood pressure  How “Mr Average” doubled the odds of getting a date and how you can to Scent Of Fear boosts Performance 

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

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