New prescription for cardiac patients helps decrease pain and speed healing
Researchers believe they are discovering new truths about heart health and recovering from cardiac surgery with numerous clinical studies seeking to prove a link between music and patient wellness. Ancient Greek society appointed Apollo master and commander of both health and music. Africans and Native Americans used singing in healing rituals. The Chinese character depicting music appears in the character that represents medicine. This idea that healing and health are enhanced by music is an ancient one. New experiments and studies prove the link.
Dr. Luciano Bernardi, an Italian Cardiologist, conducted a study to discover music's effect on blood pressure and heart rate. Wondering if external rhythms could affect internal ones, he began with research about controlled breathing and how it might regulate the autonomic nervous system. With evidence of enhanced baroreflex sensitivity and reduced blood pressure, he continued with a study that tested the effects of various types of music.
Using music to control heart rate, respiration, and breathing rate proved a worthy experiment. Using samples from Vivaldi, Beethoven, dodecaphonic orchestral work, techno music, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bernardi found a notable relationship between the rhythm and tempo of the music and the subjects' vital signs. Fast music caused increased respiration, elevated blood pressure, and a faster heart rate. Slower, relaxing music had the opposite effect.
Small-scale, recent studies in the United States support these findings, as well. Nurse led teams at Massachusetts General Hospital treated patients with cardiac problems who were experiencing doctor-ordered bed-rest with 30 minutes of relaxing music. The patients' heart rates slowed, blood pressure dropped, and overall levels of anxiety fell. AT the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, nurses found that just 20 minutes of relaxing music reduced cardiac patients' anxiety and nervousness, as well. Cardiac surgery patients at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis listened to music after surgery and reported a decrease in pain as compared to patients who rested quietly without music.
While there is much to learn about exactly how music helps cardiac patients recover faster and more comfortably with fewer overall complications, there is certainly more than enough evidence to prove that music holds the power to support humans as we heal broken bodies. The prescription for faster healing with less pain? Take at least 20 minutes of your favorite relaxing music each day.
Circulation Cardiology Journal