Aromatherapy massage versus reflexology on female elderly with acute coronary syndrome

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Fatigue and abnormalities in cardiovascular parameters are recognized as major problems for patients with acute coronary syndrome. Non-pharmacological nursing interventions are useful for controlling this fatigue and reducing patients' suffering during hospitalization.


The present study compared the effects of aromatherapy massage and reflexology on fatigue and cardiovascular parameters in older female patients with acute coronary syndrome.


This study was a randomized clinical trial.


The study was conducted with 135 older female patients with acute coronary syndrome who were hospitalized in a cardiac care unit in 2014. They were invited to participate in the study and then were randomly divided into three groups: ‘aromatherapy massage’, ‘reflexology’ and ‘control’. The fatigue severity and cardiovascular parameters were assessed using the Rhoten fatigue scale and a checklist. Measurements in the groups were performed before and immediately after the intervention. Data analysis was performed using descriptive and analytical statistics via the SPSS software.


Aromatherapy massage significantly decreased fatigue, systolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure and O2 saturation more than the reflexology intervention. However, reflexology reduced patients' heart rates more than an aromatherapy massage (P < 0·05). Moreover, no significant changes were observed in patients' diastolic blood pressures when compared to the control group (P = 0·37).


Implementation of both aromatherapy massage and reflexology has positive effects on the fatigue and cardiovascular parameters of patients with acute coronary syndrome. However, aromatherapy massage can be more beneficial to use as a supportive approach in coronary diseases.

Relevance to clinical practice:

The need for reducing fatigue in acute coronary syndrome (ACS) patients in a cardiac care unit is evident. The implementation of aromatherapy massage and reflexology had positive effects on patients' fatigue as related to both physical and mental health.

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