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Complementary alternative medical therapies for heart surgery patients.

27 Sep

Researchers from Abbott Northwestern Hospital and the Minneapolis Heart Institute examined the effects of touch, music and imagery on 104 patients undergoing open heart surgery, measuring heart rate, blood pressure, pain and tension.

Researchers from Abbott Northwestern Hospital and the Minneapolis Heart Institute examined the effectiveness of touch, music and imagery for the care of heart surgery patients. One hundred four patients undergoing open heart surgery were prospectively randomized to receive either complementary therapies (preoperative guided imagery training with gentle touch or light massage and postoperative music with gentle touch or light massage and guided imagery) or standard care.

Heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and pain and tension were measured preoperatively and as pre-tests and post-tests during the postoperative period. Complications were abstracted from the hospital record.

All patients in the complementary therapy group (95%) and 86% in standard care completed the study. Heart rate and blood pressure patterns were similar. Decreases in heart rate and systolic blood pressure in the complementary therapies group were judged within the range of normal values. Complication rates were very low and occurred with similar infrequency in both groups. Pretreatment and posttreatment pain and tension scores decreased significantly in the complementary alternative medical therapies group on postoperative days 1 (p < 0.01) and 2 (p < 0.038).

The study concludes that the complementary medical therapies protocol was implemented with ease in a busy critical care setting and was acceptable to the vast majority of patients studied. Complementary medical therapy was not associated with safety concerns and appeared to reduce pain and tension during early recovery from open heart surgery.

Citation: Kshettry VR, Carole LF, Henly SJ, Sendelbach S, Kummer B. Complementary alternative medical therapies for heart surgery patients: feasibility, safety, and impact. Ann Thorac Surg. 2006 Jan;81 (1): pages 201-5. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award