Singing and Cardiovascular Health in Older Adults

  • End date
    Jan 30, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Medical College of Wisconsin
Updated on 6 October 2021
cardiovascular disease
myocardial infarction
percutaneous coronary intervention
cardiac rehabilitation
coronary disease


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) claims more lives each year than cancer and chronic respiratory disease combined. Participation in cardiac rehabilitation (CR) reduces mortality and risk of a major cardiovascular event in secondary prevention populations, including older adults. Older adults are less likely to participate in CR, as comorbidities in this population, including arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, make participation difficult. Singing is a physical activity that involves components of the vagal nerves manifested as changes in cardiac autonomic regulation. Unlike physical exercise, the effects of singing on cardiovascular health has not been well-studied. The hypothesis for this project is that older patients with CVD will have favorable improvement in cardiovascular biomarkers, including, endothelial function and heart rate variability (HRV), after 30 minutes of singing.


This proposal seeks to create, optimize and test two different singing interventions in older patients with CVD. The study will consist of three arms, according to a randomized, single-blind, crossover, sham procedure-controlled design. Sixty-five total participants will each have three visits on three different occasions for the following interventions:

  1. a 30-minute period of guided singing from an in-person music therapist
  2. a 30-minute period of singing along to an instructional video including a professor of voice and "inexperienced, older singing student"
  3. a 30-minute sham intervention (subjects will undergo a hearing test)

The goal will be to determine which singing intervention, if any, is superior to the other - as this would be important to guide longer and larger clinical trials in the field. Knowledge gained from this proposal will improve understanding of biologic mechanisms of singing behaviors, as it relates to CVD.

Condition Cardiovascular Disease, Cardiovascular Risk Factor, Cardiovascular Health, cardiovascular diseases, cardiovascular disease (cvd), cardiovascular system diseases, cardiovascular disorders
Treatment Control Arm, Singing with Music Therapist, Singing with Guided Video
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04121741
SponsorMedical College of Wisconsin
Last Modified on6 October 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

English Speaking
Have a history of coronary artery disease (defined as history of myocardial infarction, coronary stenosis >50%, percutaneous coronary intervention with stent placement, balloon angioplasty, or coronary arterial bypass grafting)

Exclusion Criteria

Subjects with a permanent pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) implanted
Patients with a history of atrial fibrillation, flutter or atrial tachycardia
Parkinson's disease or a tremor
Amputated upper extremity or presence of upper-arm (dialysis) fistula
Fingernail onychomycosis (fungal infections resulting in thickening of the nails)
Current illicit drug use (marijuana, tobacco, cocaine, amphetamines, etc.)
Current excessive alcohol use (defined as more than 14 drinks/week for women, more than 28 drinks/week for men)
Unstable coronary heart disease (active symptoms of chest discomfort)
History of a Stroke or TIA or peripheral arterial disease
Known history of cognitive impairment or inability to follow study procedures
Cancer requiring systemic treatment within five years of enrollment
Subjects requiring supplemental oxygen use
Non-English speaking subjects (video with lyrics are taped in English)
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