Can music actually heal your heart?
Of course it can, and not in metaphorical way only. In recent studies was found that music has many benefits for your heart’s health (literally), two of which include: eliciting positive emotions and easing stress. Music – no matter what genre we are talking about – has a physiological effect not only on our heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate, but also on the lining of our blood vessels. Here are these benefits in detail:
Heart rate variability
Okay, this one may be new for you, but heart rate variability (HRV) is the variation in intervals between heartbeats which is controlled by your autonomic nervous system. Actually it’s one of the most important indicators of a healthy heart. With good variability your heart is able to change rates more quickly based on what your state or current activity.
On the other hand, slow HRV can increase your risk of a heart-related disease and even death. So how does music help in this situation? Turns out that music can help you train your HRV to be more responsive. Your heart gets used to changing its rate based on the tempo of the music that you are listening to, thus getting used to be more flexible.
Scientist yet still discovering anti-inflammatory effects that music cause on the heart. At least right now it’s certain that relaxing music can improve parasympathetic tone and reduce episodes of congestive heart failure. In one study involving mice, scientists found that mice who listened to classical music demonstrated signs of reduced levels of inflammation. There is no clear explanation behind this phenomenon, but it can’t hurt to turn on a soothing song and relax at least once during your day. It doesn’t have to be classical music – there are tons of relaxing music styles that will work in the same way.
Recovering from a hospital stay is a dull thing indeed. But can music help to fasten up your recovery? Dr. Miller discusses a number of studies in Heal Your Heart, and one in particular involved patients who were allowed to listen to their choice of music while undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery.
“The postoperative time spent in the surgical ICU for those assigned to music was reduced from nearly 28 hours to 22 hours,” he says. “At first glance, this may not seem like a much shorter period of time, but if you are a patient, the quicker you can be moved out of the ICU to a quieter and more private area, the closer you are to recovery, hospital discharge, and rehabilitation.