Music is the elixir of life. It can make you happy, and it can make you cry. It helps to shed off any tensions and helps in insomnia as well. But did you know that music might be good for the heart as well?
Yes, you heard it right. And you must have experienced that good music makes you feel much better. Whenever you are listening to pop songs or fast songs, you get very excited. And an excited heart beats faster. Similarly, if you are lying down and are listening to very soft, soothing and calm music, you feel that everything has come to a halt. That is, your heart rate has slowed down substantially.
This is known as music therapy and has now been recently introduced in treating the cardiovascular conditions as well.
Although you cannot expect it to clean your arteries and remedy your valves. But what it can do is ease your recovery process. If you recently went through a cardiac procedure, it will help you get back to normal soon. It will relieve stress, and can reduce your blood pressure as well.
Music- the sound of sound healing
There was a time when music and healing were the two sides of a single coin. You needed to heal? Listen to relaxing music. Listening to music? You will be healed.
The evidence suggests the same. The Chinese character for medicine has the letter of music. Ancient Greeks used music for shedding off anxiety, improving the quality of sleep and soothing pain. Africans, as well as native Americans, used music while performing their healing rituals.
Things changed when medicine transformed from art to a science. People began to rely on chemicals and additives for their healing. However, again we are delving into its depths and trying to restore our hidden legacy. Researches have shown substantial improvements in people with chronic pain, Alzheimer’s disease and so on. in short, music affects your mental state.
Music enters our body from the ears and from there it travels the entire body. The middle ear picks us the sound waves and makes the eardrum vibrate. This vibration produces mechanical effects which are then converted by the brain into electrical energy.
The brain then deciphers the electrical signals. After that, it moves to the areas of the brain concerned with arousal, emotion, stress, pleasure, and creativity. Next, it moves on to the hypothalamus. This organ is responsible for the respiration, heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure. And all of this happens in less than a heartbeat.
Various studies conducted
A study conducted by the Live Strong revealed that music affects the heart rate of people. They conducted a study on a group of people and found out that specific kinds of music have the potential to affect our hearts. They saw that listening to such music for 20 to 30 minutes every day led to slower heart rates.
Plus, this effect is greatly increased when people with musical backgrounds were tested. This led to the conclusion that people who have had an experience of timing their heart rates will be more affected by music.
Another study that was conducted and published in the Heart magazine said that different types of music can change your heart rate in different ways. The participants had to listen to fast upbeat music. That accelerated their heart beat rate. Then this session was followed by a slow music. This relaxed the mind to a great extent and lowered the heart rate as well.
In fact, a surgeon Dr. Claudius Conrad, from the Harvard Medical School, used to play Mozart piano piece to his patients, when they were not being drugged, and this reduced their stress levels and heart rates.
According to Dr. Luciano Bernardi, who is the associate professor of internal medicine, University of Pavia Italy, music not only helps you to calm down after a tiring day but also lowers your blood pressure and improves your heart rate variability.
However, this idea is not a recent happening. In 1918 itself, Hyde and Scalapino said that the minor tones of music led to an increase in the pulse rate and reported a lower blood pressure. On the other hand, major tones or in their words, ‘stirring’ music increased the heart rate as well as the blood pressure.
Coming back to Dr. Bernardi, he became so interested in knowing the effects of music on the human heart, that he went on to find the effects of music and tunes on the autonomous nervous system. He believed that it could impact the cardiovascular system and the respiratory functions.
According to him, these systems use rhythms to send information to the heart and for the circulation of blood in the body. So he got curious to know if an external rhythm could influence this.
He also added that regulated breathing like in yoga and meditation helps in controlling the internal rhythms. So if one could impose a way of slow, steady breathing, he could modulate and control his whole cardiovascular system.
His findings include a few interesting things.
- The reciting of rosary prayer or yoga mantra have led to enhanced heart rate variability and bar reflex sensitivity by decreasing the breathing rate to as much as 6 breaths per minute.
- Breathing at such a rate has helped the patients of high blood pressure.
- He also found out that we can control our internal rhythms via the means of controlled breathing.
- He also suggested that these results can be helpful in rehabilitative medicine.
The director of the Centre of Preventive Cardiology, Dr. Michael Miller, University of Maryland Medical Centre, has also conducted several types of research in this field.
The good news is that these results are being implemented in many hospitals. They play very soothing and quite music in the cardiovascular units. This decreases their blood pressure and heart rate and substantially increases their quality of life.
Applications of music therapy in cardiac procedures
Today, people are using music therapy in various things. From reducing their stress to the treatment of insomnia, music has found its way in people’s lives. It has now expanded its domain to cardiac procedures as well. Hospitals are using music therapy to treat people who have suffered from heart attacks or any other similar condition.
Mayo Clinic has the Healing Enhancement Program running that incorporates music healing along with massage and relaxation therapy for the people undergoing heart surgery. This has led to easing the pain and anxiety and has put the minds of the patients off the distractions. The sounds are generally natural, and this makes the patients feel like they are out in the lap of nature.
Another aspect of music healing implemented here is helping people in recovering from cardiovascular conditions. Music therapy has helped in coping with stress.
To conclude, music can very drastically affect the quality of life we are living. And it depends on the types of music as well as the listener. If the patient has never been open to music to a sufficient extent, it will take time for him to show the results. Also, the outputs are genre specific. Some people will relax on listening to soothing songs while for some people fast tracks do the trick.
Whatever it is, music is undoubtedly very effective. Researches are going on, and soon we will have all our answers.