Sept. 17, 2008 -- Elderly people with high blood pressure might want to give guided relaxation audio programs a try, new research shows.
In a small study, elderly people with hypertension (high blood pressure) who listened to a guided relaxation audio program lowered their systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) more than those who listened to a Mozart sonata.
The elders who took part in the study were already taking drugs to help lower their blood pressure, but it was still a bit above normal when the study began. They were assigned to listen to the relaxation program or Mozart at least three times a week for four weeks.
The guided relaxation audio program combined soothing sounds with instruction for deep breathing, and played for 12 minutes. The two Mozart pieces (Andante from Symphony No. 13 in F Major, K112 and Andante from the Serenade in D Major, K250) lasted for a total of 12 minutes, researcher Jean Tang, PhD, ARNP-BC, tells WebMD by email. Tang is an assistant professor at Seattle University's College of Nursing.
Patients in both groups improved their blood pressure during the study, but systolic pressure improved more for the guided relaxation group compared to the Mozart group.
That's according to blood pressure readings participants took at the study's start and after finishing all 12 sessions. Both groups had comparable improvement in diastolic blood pressure, the second number in a blood pressure reading.
Why did systolic blood pressure improve more with the relaxation program? "It is very possible that the guided relaxation group members were better able to connect their mind with their body," Tang says in an American Heart Association news release. "Some in the classical music session may have just sat through it without consciously trying to relax their body."
Tang presented the results today in Atlanta at the American Heart Association's 62nd Annual Fall Conference of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research.