"Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation," wrote scientist Oliver Sacks. Medical research lends credibility to his observation, as classical music is known to lower heart rate and blood pressure. However, a new study shows that a little "mediation" from antihypertensive drugs goes a long way in helping the heart to find its natural, healthy rhythm.
New research suggests that music helps the heart to stay healthy by enhancing the effect of blood pressure medication.
Combining the soothing power of music with the beneficial effects of antihypertensive drugs seems to create a beautiful synergy that lowers the heart rate and blood pressure of people with hypertension.
This is the main result of a new study carried out by an international team of researchers. Their results are now published in the journal Scientific Reports.
"The inexpressible depth of music," as Sacks called it in his book Musicophilia, has been shown before to have healing effects on the heart. Studies have suggested that music can lower the blood pressure, reduce the heart rate, and ease the distress of people living with heart conditions.
The comforting effects of music do not stop here. Music therapy was shown to help the heart to contract and push blood throughout the body, classical and rock music makes your arteries more supple, and listening to music during surgery helps to lower the heart rate to a more calming pace.
Given all of these intriguingly positive effects of music on the heart, could it be that music can also boost the positive effects of blood pressure medication?
This question puzzled the researchers — who were led by Vitor Engrácia Valenti, a professor in the Speech Language Pathology Department at the São Paulo State University in Brazil. So, they set out to investigate.
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Prof. Valenti and his colleagues investigated the effects of instrumental music on the heart rate and blood pressure of people with "well-controlled hypertension." These were 37 participants who had been taking antihypertensive medication for a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 1 year.
After taking their usual blood pressure medication, the participants listened to music for 60 minutes using earphones. The next day, they took their medication as usual, but they sat in silence with the earphones turned off for the same amount of time.