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Laughter, Music May Lower Blood Pressure, Study Says
Date:3/27/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Laughter and music not only lift the mood, they might also drop blood pressure among middle-aged adults, a new study suggests.

Japanese researchers divided 79 adults, aged 40 to 74, into three groups, studying the effects of one-hour music sessions every two weeks on one group, laughter sessions on another group, and no intervention for the remaining participants (the control group).

Blood pressure readings taken immediately after the sessions were 6 mm Hg lower in the music group and 7 mm Hg lower among the laughter participants compared to measurements taken just prior to the sessions, the study authors said.

Improvements in blood pressure were still seen three months later, according to the results.

No change in blood pressure was recorded among participants who received neither intervention.

"The [participants'] cortisol level, a stress marker, decreased just after the intervention sessions," said lead author Eri Eguchi, a public health researcher at Osaka University's Graduate School of Medicine in Japan. "We think this is one of the explanations for the physiological processes."

The results of Eguchi's study were scheduled for presentation Friday at an American Heart Association conference in Atlanta. The study does not show a direct cause and effect, merely an association. Also, experts say that research presented at meetings is considered preliminary because it has not been subject to the rigorous scrutiny required for publication in a medical journal.

For three months, music therapists guided 32 participants in listening to, singing and stretching with music. They were also encouraged to listen to music at home.

Laughter sessions were led by trained laughter yogis, with 30 participants performing laughter yoga -- a combination of breathing exercises and laughter stimulated through playful eye cont
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