The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Lowering blood pressure with music-guided slow breathing

    Bradypnea (slow breathing) was studied by researchers at the University of Florence, in Italy.

    First, the details.

    • 86 people with high blood pressure were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatment groups.
      • Music-guided slow breathing exercises (4-6 breaths/minute; 1:2 ratio of inspiration:expiration duration)
      • A control group taught to relax while listening to slow music.
      • A control group taught to relax while reading a book.
    • Patients were monitored at the start of the study and at follow-up visits (1 week and 1, 3, and 6 months).
    • Systolic blood pressure monitoring was performed.

    And, the results.

    • Music-guided slow breathing exercise was associated with a significant reduction in 24-hour and nighttime systolic arterial blood pressure.
    • The average reduction at 6 months with music-guided slow breathing was 5 and 4 mmHg vs the control-music and control-reading groups, respectively.
    • Antihypertensive treatment tended to reduce the blood pressure lowering response to music-guided slow breathing.
    • After adjusting for the effect of slow breathing and antihypertensive treatment, factors that significantly affected the blood pressure response included a general positive affect, emotional ties, and loss of behavioral control.

    The bottom line?

    The authors concluded, “Daily sessions of voluntary music-guided slow breathing significantly reduce 24-hour systolic arterial blood pressure, and psychological predictors of efficacy can be identified.”

    These findings support an earlier study in 2001. Researchers at The Chaim Sheba Medical Center, in Tel-Hashomer, Israel, reported significantly greater reductions in systolic blood pressure (8 mmHg) with musically-guided breathing exercises vs 3 mmHg in the control group — a 5 mmHg difference.

    A PubMed search revealed no other studies combining music with slow-breathing. Although researchers at Seattle University, in Washington reported that guided relaxation may be more effective in lowering blood pressure than plain music.

    As an aside, ACE inhibitor drugs cause an 8-point reduction in systolic pressure, with most of that change achieved with the lowest recommended dose.

    7/31/10 22:26 JR

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