Sometimes listening to your favourite music can quiet your mind and relax your muscles. Additionally, it is also good for your heart. Music significantly lowers anxiety, and physical tension and influences the heart and breathing rates. According to a study, patients who suffered episodes of chest pain soon after a heart attack, known as early post-infarction angina, had significantly lower levels of anxiety and pain if they listened to music for 30 minutes a day,
Every year, some 700,000 Americans survive a heart attack. Within the first 48 hours after the attack, 1 in 9 of these survivors are thought to have more episodes of anxiety and chest pain. The latest research indicates that patients may be able to take easy, accessible steps at home to potentially lessen these symptoms and help avoid more cardiac episodes by combining music therapy with conventional interventions like medicine.
Music therapy can help patients after a heart attack
“There have been very few studies analysing the effects of music on heart conditions,” said Predrag Mitrovic, MD, PhD, professor of cardiology at the University of Belgrade School of Medicine and the study’s lead author. “Based on our findings, we believe music therapy can help all patients after a heart attack, not only patients with early post-infarction angina. It’s also very easy and inexpensive to implement.”
350 patients with a diagnosis of heart attack and early post-infarction angina were enrolled in the study, which was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session in conjunction with the World Congress of Cardiology (ACC.20/WCC) at a medical facility in Serbia.
Half of the participants were randomized to receive normal treatment, while the other half additionally received frequent music sessions. A range of pharmaceuticals, including nitrates, aspirin, clot-preventing agents, beta-blockers, statins, calcium channel blockers, blood pressure-lowering agents, and the angina-reducing drug ranolazine, were part of the usual treatment for most patients.
Music genre designated as per body response
Prior to beginning music therapy, patients had an assessment to ascertain which type of music their bodies would react to most favourably. Researchers measured each participant’s body for automatic, involuntary reactions to the music samples based on the dilation or narrowing of the pupils while the participants listened to nine 30-second samples of calming music. After that, the researchers adjusted the choice by collaborating with the patient to choose the ideal music’s tempo and tone.
Every day, for thirty minutes, participants were to sit whenever it was suitable for them to do so and listen to the assigned musical selection, preferably with their eyes closed. Patients kept a journal of their daily listening sessions for the seven years that they participated in them. For the first year and then every year after that, they came back to the medical centre for follow-up evaluations every three months.
Music therapy found to be more effective than standard treatment alone
At the end of seven years, music therapy was found to be more effective than standard treatment alone in terms of reducing anxiety, pain sensation, and pain distress. The patients with music therapy, on average, had anxiety scores one-third lower than those on standard treatment and reported lower angina symptoms by about one-quarter. Significantly lower rates of various heart problems were also observed in these patients: the rate of heart failure decreased by 18%, the rate of repeated heart attacks decreased by 23%, the rate of cardiac death decreased by 16%, and the rate of needing coronary artery bypass graft surgery decreased by 20%.
Music may counteract the activity of the sympathetic nervous system
According to Mitrovic, the way that music may function is by assisting in the suppression of sympathetic nervous system activity, which is responsible for inducing the “fight-or-flight” response in people in stressful situations. A sympathetic reaction can exacerbate the effects of high blood pressure and heart rate on the cardiovascular system.
“Unrelieved anxiety can produce an increase in sympathetic nervous system activity, leading to an increase in cardiac workload,” Mitrovic said. He proposed that regular music listening sessions could stop that chain of events by lowering the anxiety related to angina following a heart attack.
To ascertain whether music therapy may be beneficial for patient subgroups, such as those in a particular age range or those with other medical illnesses like diabetes, the researchers intend to further study the data.
Materials provided by the American College of Cardiology. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
American College of Cardiology. “Music as medicine? 30 minutes a day show benefits after a heart attack.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 March 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200318104453.htm>.
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