Music may Protect from Heart Disease – Study

According to the results of a new study, listening to music that makes you feel good has a positive effect on the blood vessels. The effects are measureable. We’ve long known that emotion can affect health. Simply enjoying country, classical music, or R&B appears to decrease your chances of heart disease. The benefits may extend to overall health, helping to fight infection and recover from injury.

Researchers found that when we feel joyful, in this case in response to music, the blood vessels dilate, increasing blood flow. The same response occurs when we laugh. Stressful music had the opposite response – the blood vessels narrow, restricting blood flow to the heart and other organs. Michael Miller, M.D., director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine says "We knew that individual people would react differently to different types of music, so in this study, we enabled participants to select music based upon their likes and dislikes."

Ten volunteers were told to avoid listening to their favorite music for at least two weeks. The researchers explored the study participant’s physiologic reaction to their favorite music, to music that caused feelings of anxiety, relaxation, and to videos that provoked laughter, in four study phases. The sequences of the presentations were randomly assigned to each individual.

The scientists feel that their study results will provide valuable clues about the body's ability to heal, The lining of the blood vessels (endothelium) plays an important role. When it is inflamed, it sets us up for the development of clots leading to heart attack. Blood vessel integrity promotes overall health in terms of wound healing, fighting infection, clotting and development of diabetes through a series of chemical reactions that either promote disease or better health.

Blood flow was measured in the upper arm using an ultrasound device. A blood pressure cuff was applied to the arm. When the cuff was released during exposure to the music or video, the researchers were able to measure improvement of blood flow, indicating expansion of the brachial (arm) artery. Dr. Miller says, "I was impressed with the highly significant differences both before and after listening to joyful music as well as between joyful and anxious music” – blood vessel flow increased by 26 percent after the joyful music phase, and decreased by 6 percent in response to anxiety. Laughter improved blood flow by 19 percent.

"We don't understand why somebody may be drawn to certain classical music, for example. There are no words in that, and yet the rhythm, the melody and harmony, may all play a role in the emotional and cardiovascular response, “says Dr. Miller. He believes that endorphins may play a major role in overall health, as we continue to explore that “mind-heart connection that we yearn to learn so much more about”.

Prevention of heart disease is a focus of major attention. Incorporating joyful or relaxing music into your daily routine should provide a most pleasant and attainable strategy for better health. Pick your favorite music, sit back, and envision better health.


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