Argentine "Tango Treatment" Helps Rehabilitate Heart Patients
Argentina's tango dance is often associated with broken hearts, but doctors are now using it to help heal the hearts of patients.
Doctors have found the dance provides similar medical benefits to traditional rehabilitation techniques like walking or jogging, and gives patients a chance to mix socially while listening to music and learning a new skill.
Dr. Alberto Marani, a cardiologist at the Paroissien Hospital in the Buenos Aires suburb of La Matanza, was at a dance hall on Monday to help launch the program.
[Dr. Alberto Marani, Cardiologist]:
"Tango and milonga can generate the same beneficial effects for coronary arteries and for the heart just like walking or jogging. From that fact, we started this project and put it together in a short amount of time."
Marani and his colleagues started a successful program two years ago to get patients playing football, and will now offer tango classes every Monday.
Hospital technician Romilda Seco said exercise is as good or better than taking medicine to treat ailments.
[Romilda Seco, Medical Technician]:
"Also, exercise is a treatment that has the same benefits as medicine. It controls blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and stress. It's also good to get the patients active."
Heart patient Emilio Ossola, who has a stent, says dancing is far more motivating than walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike.
[Emilio Ossola , Patient]:
"I think I'm going to improve because I like it. And it's a great distraction. Right now I'd be watching television at home, and I'm here, having fun and enjoying myself. Apart from the exercise it's good for the heart."
The hospital currently has around 150 patients recovering from heart problems.
Marani said historically just 15 percent of patients undergo rehabilitation, and many of them quit before it's complete.
He's hoping tango will make rehab fun, and get those numbers up.
Over 15 couples have already signed up for the classes which include a live orchestra and are free to anyone with a history of heart problems.
And if 67-year-old Aladino Manilardi is any indication of the future of the program, it will be a success.
[Aladino Manilardi, Heart Attack Victim]:
"I love tango. I've wanted to learn to dance my entire life, and well, in rehabilitation this chance came up and I got hooked. Until I dance like the teachers, I'm not giving up."