Jump to content
  • ENA

    Music Is Good For Your Heart

    By Margarita Nahapetyan

    Listening to the right kind of music directly affects blood flow as well as lungs and the heart, indicating that music could one day be therapeutically useful to slow the heart rates and lower blood pressure, a new study revealed. Loud music, in contrast, makes a heart beat faster and brings blood pressure up, Italian researchers have reported.

    For several years now, music has already been used at the bedside in many hospitals. Not only it doesn't cost anything and is easy to administer, music has also beneficial physical effects on the body as well as a person's mood, the authors wrote. They found in a previous study that music with faster tempos was associated with an increased breathing, heartbeat and blood pressure. However, when the music stopped playing, breathing, heart rate and blood pressure went down, sometimes even below the beginning rate. Slower the music was, slower were the heart rates.

    In an extension of those findings, the investigators have recently revealed that swelling crescendos appear to induce moderate arousal, whereas decrescendos are associated with relaxation. In music, crescendo is a term that means gradual volume increase, and a decrescendo is its opposite, a gradual decrease of the volume.

    "Music induces a continuous, dynamic - and to some extent predictable - change in the cardiovascular system," said Dr. Luciano Bernardi, M.D., a principal author of the study and a professor of Internal Medicine at Pavia University in Pavia, Italy. "It is not only the emotion that creates the cardiovascular changes, but this study suggests that also the opposite might be possible, that cardiovascular changes may be the substrate for emotions, likely in a bi-directional way," Dr. Bernardi said.

    For their study purposes, the experts involved 24 healthy Caucasians matched for age and gender - between 24 and 26 years old. Among the participants, there were 12 experienced singers (9 women) and 12 individuals (7 women) who had no previous musical training. The subjects were provided with headphones and were attached to electrocardiogram (ECG) and monitors, so the experts could measure their blood pressure, cerebral artery flow, lung condition and narrowing of blood veins on the skin.

    The music the participants were played included selections from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, an aria from Puccini's Turandot, a Bach cantata, "Va Pensiero" from Verdi's opera Nabucco, and "Libiam Nei Lieti Calici" from Verdi's La Traviata. The volunteers also listened to a 2-minute silent pause.

    The results revealed that:

    • Every crescendo resulted in an increased narrowing of blood vessels under the skin, raised blood pressure and heart beat, as well as increased respiration amplitude. In each music extract played, the length of the effect was proportional to the change in music profile.

    • During the silent pause, changes dropped. The blood vessels under the skin became wider and there were significant reductions in heart beat and blood pressure observed. In contrast to music, silence brought down heart rate and other variables, indicating relaxation.

    • Music phrases around 10 seconds long, like those used in "Va Pensiero" and "Libiam Nei Lieti Calici," synchronized with heart rhythm, therefore modulating cardiovascular control.

    According to previous studies, music is very beneficial when it comes to reducing stress, it also boosts athletic performance and enhances motor skills of patients with neurological impairments. Dr. Bernardi noted that these days, music more and more frequently is being used as a therapeutic method for different conditions. What is more, the distracting effect of music can also extend exercise by increasing the threshold for pain or breathing during labor.

    The investigators said that the study has its limitations as it examined only 24 participants, all of whom were of a similar age, education and ethnicity. Different responses might have come from older individuals, or people who prefer different styles of music, said researchers, who used only few well-known tracks by a small number of classical composers.

    The study is published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    There are no comments to display.

    Create an account or sign in to comment

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now

  • Create New...