- Listening to classical music for one hour significantly slow people’s heart rates
- Research suggests such melodies activate the parasympathetic nervous system
- This slows people’s heart rates, lowers blood pressure and stabilises adrenaline
- Classical music also activates the vagus nerve, which is in the nervous system
- High blood pressure affects more than one in four adults in the UK
Listening to classical music makes high blood pressure medication more effective, new research suggests.
People have significantly slower heart rates if they listen to instrumental music for one hour after taking anti-hypertension pills, a study found.
Study author Professor Vitor Engrácia Valenti, from São Paulo State University, said: ‘We observed that music improved heart rate and enhanced the effect of anti-hypertensives for about an hour after they were administered.’
Previous research suggests classical music activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows people’s heart rates, lowers blood pressure and stabilises adrenaline.
High blood pressure affects more than one in four adults in the UK.
It occurs when blood exerts a higher than normal pressure against vessel walls, putting people at risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Listening to classical music makes high blood pressure medication more effective (stock)
ARE HEALTHY DIETS OR MEDICATION MORE EFFECTIVE AT LOWERING BLOOD PRESSURE?
Low-salt diets packed with fruit and vegetables lower blood pressure more than medication after just four weeks, a Harvard University study suggested in November 2017.
Cutting out salt and eating lots of fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy, reduces people with high blood pressure’s results by an average of 21 mm Hg, the research adds.
To put that into context, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US’ drug-approving body, will not accept anti-hypertension medications unless they lower blood pressure by at least 3-4 mm Hg.
Most medications typically reduce hypertension readings by between 10 and 15 mm Hg, but come with side effects including fatigue, dizziness and headache.
Study author Dr Lawrence Appel said: ‘What we’re observing from the combined dietary intervention is a reduction in systolic blood pressure as high as, if not greater than, that achieved with prescription drugs.
‘It’s an important message to patients that they can get a lot of mileage out of adhering to a healthy and low-sodium diet.’
Around 32 percent of adults in the US, and one in four in the UK, have high blood pressure, which puts them at risk of heart disease and stroke.
The researchers analyzed 412 people with early-stage hypertension who were not taking high blood pressure medication.
Some of the study’s participants were fed a ‘DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet’, which includes lots of fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, with minimal saturated fat.
The remaining participants ate a typical American diet.
All of the participants were fed different sodium levels equaling around 0.5, one or two teaspoons of salt a day over four weeks with five-day breaks in between.
Classical music optimises medication after one hour
Results further suggest that, when high blood pressure medication is taken while listening to music, its anti-hypertensive effects start after around 15 minutes and peak after an hour.
The researchers believe music stimulates activity in the vagus nerve, which is part of the nervous system.
A previous study suggests classical music lowers people’s heart rates when they are experiencing stress.
The lead author of this investigation said: ‘We’ve observed classical music activating the parasympathetic nervous system and reducing sympathetic activity.’
The sympathetic nervous system accelerates people’s heart rates, constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure.
Professor Valenti added: ‘Previous research showed music therapy having a significant positive effect on blood pressure in hypertensive patients.
‘But it wasn’t clear if music could influence the effects of medication on heart rate variability and on systolic and diastolic blood pressure.’
How the research was carried out
The researchers analysed 37 adults with stable high blood pressure who had been receiving anti-hypertension treatment for between six months and a year.
After taking their usual medication, the participants listened to instrumental music via headphones for 60 minutes at the same volume.
Their heart rates were measured at 20, 40 and 60 minutes after taking their anti-hypertension drugs.
The participants repeated the same experiment 48 hours later.
In addition, they also sat, after taking their medication, for 60 minutes but without the headphones turned on, which acted as the control.
Women with high blood pressures before pregnancy are nearly 20% more likely to have a miscarriage
This comes after research released earlier this month suggested having a high blood pressure before becoming pregnant raises a woman’s risk of suffering a miscarriage by nearly 20 per cent.
Those with blood-pressure readings above the healthy score of 80mmHg are more likely to lose their pregnancies, according to a study by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Maryland.
The risk rises up to 18 per cent for every 10mmHg blood pressure increase, the research adds.
Researchers conclude the findings highlight the importance of a healthy lifestyle, via diet and exercise, to reduce women’s blood pressures and subsequent miscarriage risks.
Previous research suggests that when high blood pressure occurs during pregnancy, babies can be starved of oxygen and nutrients.