Turns out, music aids not just mental health, but physical health as well.
According to a study conducted by FundaÃ§ao De Amparo Ã€ Pesquisa Do Estado De Sao Paulo, the music intensifies the effects of anti-hypertensive medication.
The research showed anti-hypertensive drugs improving heart rate more in patients with high blood pressure who listen to music after taking medication than those who don’t indulge.
“We observed that music improved heart rate and enhanced the effect of anti-hypertensives for about an hour after they were administered,” said Vitor Engracia Valenti, a coordinator of the study.
A few years ago, the researchers at UNESP MarÃlia began studying the effects of music on the heart in conditions of stress. One of their findings was that classical music tends to lower heart rate.
“We’ve observed classical music activating the parasympathetic nervous system and reducing sympathetic activity,” said the principal investigator.
The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems constitute the autonomic nervous system, which maintains homeostasis. The sympathetic nervous system accelerates heart rate, constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure. The parasympathetic nervous system controls the body at rest, slowing the heart, lowering blood pressure, and stabilizing blood sugar and adrenaline.
The researchers followed up this finding by measuring the effect of musical stimulation on heart rate variability in ordinary situations such as treatment for high blood pressure, in which music therapy has been studied as a complementary intervention.
The researchers performed an experiment to measure the effects of the musical auditory stimulus associated with anti-hypertensive medication on heart rate and blood pressure in 37 patients with well-controlled hypertension.
The subjects had been undergoing anti-hypertensive treatment for between six months and a year. Measurements were taken on two random days with a gap of 48 hours.
Analysis of the data showed heart rate diminishing significantly 60 minutes after medication when patients listened to music in the period. Heart rate did not fall as significantly when they did not listen to music.
Blood pressure also responded more strongly to medication when they listened to music.
“We found that the effect of anti-hypertension medication on heart rate was enhanced by listening to music,” Valenti said.
One of the hypotheses raised by the researchers was that music stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, increases gastrointestinal activity and accelerates absorption of the anti-hypertensive medication, intensifying its effects on heart rate.
The study appears in the journal Scientific Reports.