Music Which Brings Joy Can Improve Heart Health

Nov 29, 2008 by

Music Which Brings Joy Can Improve Heart Health

Emotions, such as laughter, affect heart health.

Now, a study recently presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting has found that listening to music which gives one a sense of joy also positively impacts heart health. And it does so in a very tangible way, too, by improving the function of blood vessels.

Conducted by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the study used music which was selected by the participants themselves – they found that their chosen music had filled them with a sense of joy.

It was found that when the study subjects listened to their chosen music, the tissue in the inner lining of their blood vessels dilated. This increased blood flow. On the other hand, when they listened to music which they found stressful, the participants’ blood vessels became narrower. That, of course, restricted blood flow.

The study involved 10 healthy, non-smoking volunteers and comprised of four phases. In phase one, the participants listened to music which they had chosen, music which they felt gave them a sense of joy. Phase two involved music which made them feel stressed. Phase three involved listening to audio tapes which promoted relaxation, while phase four involved watched videotapes which made them laugh.

Interestingly, for the ‘joyful songs’, participants mainly chose country music, while for ‘stressful songs’, they mainly chose heavy metal songs.

Prior to each phase, the participants were made to fast overnight, and a test called the ‘flow-mediated dilation’ was also given to find out how the lining of their blood vessels, called the endothelium, responded to various stimuli. The endothelium is known to impact health in several ways, regulating blood flow, adjusting blood thickening and coagulation as well as releasing chemicals in response to irritation, wounds and infections.

After the baseline test, the study participants then listened to or watched the respective audio or video, depending on the phase of the study, for a period of 30 minutes. Dilation measurements were then taken throughout the period to monitor any changes. Each phase of the study then took place a week after the previous one.

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