Hypertension, affects around 1.13 billion people around the world. It is classified into two types – primary and secondary hypertension and may be caused by certain underlying disease conditions of the kidneys, heart or endocrine system. It can lead to the failure of the heart or kidneys, further leading to a stroke.
Diet is known to play an essential role in the management of blood pressure. Reducing the salt intake, regular exercise, stress management and weight loss have shown a significant effect on the regulation of blood pressure apart from medications.[1-2]
The impact of music on hypertension
Music, which has proven to have a relaxing effect on people with anxiety issues, has now been observed to affect hypertension in a positive way.
Potter, an author of a fundamental textbook of nursing, defines music therapy as a “technique used to cure a disease by using a particular sound or rhythm”.
A recent study conducted on 120 participants, which was published in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, showed a decrease in the systolic and diastolic pressures in individuals who listened to classical music. Patients in the study group listened to Mozart, Strauss and ABBA for 25 minutes, whereas the control group did not listen to music. Participants who listened to ABBA amongst the three groups (Mozart, Strauss and ABBA) showed a minimal reduction in blood pressure. Researchers also suggested that the music should be without any lyrics, harmonising and have few changes in rhythm to help lower blood pressure.
Another study was conducted on 200 elderly people with hypertension in India to determine the effects of Indian classical music. Classical music enhances the intensity of neurotransmitters and induces pleasant feelings. Raga Malkauns, a serious, meditative raga that induces calmness was chosen from Hindustani classical music for this study. The participants were divided into two equal groups – the experimental and control groups. The control group was only on medications, whereas the experimental group listened to the raga for 15 minutes every evening for one month while on anti-hypertensive medications. Results from the experimental group showed a reduction in heart rate and mean arterial pressure as compared to the control group. A pleasant mood was also observed after music therapy.
How music reduces blood pressure?
A study conducted by Taruna (2013) stated that the calming effect of music on the brain stimulates the production of nitrous oxide (NO), which works on blood vessels, thereby causing dilation of the blood vessels and further lowering the blood pressure. However, the study conducted in India attributed this effect to the action of the parasympathetic nervous system.
Other than helping improve blood pressure, music also has a considerable impact on lowering the respiration rate and the secretion of cortisol (a hormone released during stressful situations).
Music can improve the physiological and psychological health of individuals and can help reduce mental and physical tension, anxiety, stress, depression and loneliness along with improving sleep quality and pain.
Thus, it can be concluded that listening to classical music along with taking prescribed medicines is beneficial for patients with hypertension.
- World Health Organization. Hypertension [Internet]. [cited 2020 7 Jan]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension.
- Bustami. Relaxed music can reduce blood pressure in hypertension patients. Int J Sci Technol Res. 2018;7(4):171-3. Available from: https://www.ijstr.org/final-print/apr2018/Relaxed-Music-Can-Reduce-Blood-Pressure-In-Hypertension-Patients.pdf.
- Loomba RS, Arora R, Shah PH, Chandrasekar S, Molnar J. Effects of music on systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate: a meta-analysis. Indian Heart J. 2012 May-Jun;64(3):309-13. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860955/.
- Trappe H, Voit, G. The cardiovascular effect of musical genres. 2016;113:347-52. Available from: https://www.aerzteblatt.de/int/archive/article?id=179298.
- Shankar VM, Geethanjali B, Veezhinathan M, Hariharakrishnan J, Balakrishnan N, Lakshmi L. Evaluating the effect of music intervention on hypertension. Current Science. Forthcoming 2020. Available from: https://www.currentscience.ac.in/php/forthcoming/2019/33689.pdf.