|American Heart Month: Can music help your heart?|
February is always Heart Month as sponsored by the American Heart Association. Of course I thought it would be the perfect time to inform my readers about the power of music to help your heart. Just a little over a week ago, a story came out entitled "Joyful Music Helps the Heart." This was found on the WebMD site and reported that "Music that Inspires Joy Improves Blood Vessel Function." Here is the summary.
The study comes from Michael Miller, MD, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland. Miller reported the findings at this week's annual meeting of the American Heart Association in New Orleans.
Ten volunteers identified specific music that made them feel a sense of joy. While the music played, Miller and colleagues used an ultrasound device to measure how well each person's blood vessels responded to a sudden increase in blood flow (caused by release of a blood pressure cuff).
When they heard joyful music, the volunteers' blood vessels dilated by 26% -- a very healthy response. It's similar in magnitude to the response seen after aerobic exercise.
Laughter also improved blood flow. After listening to a comedy tape, volunteers' blood vessels dilated by 19%. That's similar to the laughter effect seen in an earlier study, in which volunteers viewed excerpts from the comic movie Kingpin.
But music has a dark side, too. Listening to music that made volunteers feel anxious narrowed blood vessels by 6%.
"These results were music to my ears because they signal another preventive strategy that we may incorporate in our daily lives to promote heart health," Miller says in a news release.
Country music made most of the volunteers feel joyful. Heavy metal music made most of them feel anxious. But Miller says what matters isn't the type of music, but an individual's emotional response to the music.
Miller says that 10 different individuals might well have found different types of music joyful -- and heart healthy.
Funding for the study came from the American Heart Association, the Veterans Administration, and the National Institutes of health.
I also know from personal experience that music has a positive effect on the heart. In 1996 my mother was suddenly diagnosed with heart disease and told that she needed immediate by-pass surgery. I rushed to her side with CD's and headphones ready to go and, to my surprise, could not get her to agree to using any of the music CD's that I had packed for her surgery. Finally, after sampling lots of different types of music, my dear mother said in exasperation "Alice just pick whatever music you think is best...as long as it's not 'Nearer My God to Thee.' Everybody in hearing range just cracked up with laughter because my mother is a minister's wife !
Since that time, so much research has been published about how music affects the heart before and after surgery. A study from the Mayo Clinic found that simply providing music at bedside after surgery can reduce pain and anxiety in a measurable way. http://www.mayoclinic.org/cv-surgery-healing-enhancement/types.html
If you have a heart condition that you know about, think about relaxing with the help of your favorite music. If you're not sure what you want, see some of my suggestions.
|Music and the Olympics!|
You've probably been enjoying the Olympics
for the past two weeks as people around the world have! A few years
ago I wrote about how emotional it is when the winners receive their
medals and the national anthem of their country is played.
Invariably it seems that the athletes start out smiling and waving, then
the music starts and they quiet down and look more serious. After
about 5-10 seconds many of them start singing their national anthem and
then the emotion covers their faces, men and woman, and tears begin
flowing. Make no mistake, these are tears of joy and intense pride
and the audience at home begins to feel the same emotion and numerous
times I teared up too.
To me it's very heartening to see how much these athletes love their countries and want to make their countrymen proud. Right now, at this very moment I'm listening to the National Anthem of Norway as the flags go up! And it's happening all over again...music is so powerful and of course, the nature of an anthem is that it's conveying heartfelt sentiment that is intended to stir the soul.
Nowadays you can go to www.YouTube.com and see replays of all these medal ceremonies and listen to all the various national anthems. I've certainly learned Canada's this time around as I've heard it so many times. It is quite beautiful too!
Next time you hear your National Anthem, pay attention to your feelings as you listen.
|This month's "Healing Music Special Package"|
Every month I offer a special digital package of healing music products to my list, depending on what the emphasis of that month's ezine has been. Here is your February "Special Package"
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|About Alice Cash|
For nearly two decades, I've has been helping people use the music that
they already love to heal their lives and increase their wellness
am one of the world's only clinical musicologists and hold
Bachelors and Masters degrees in piano performance, a Ph.D. in
musicology and a Master of Social Work in clinical social work. I
am also a licensed clinical social worker. I work with people and
diagnoses of all kinds, enabling them to find healing, acceptance and
hope. To hear me speak, and watch me in action "is to have a day
that will amaze, educate, motivate, and inspire you!" To hire me
for your association or organization click