When I hear Louis Armstrong sing What A Wonderful World, my body automatically relaxes. Now studies are proving it’s more than a feeling. Music can be a powerful tool to lower stress and high blood pressure. According to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), 85% of primary care visits are attributed in part to stress. So it’s pretty exciting that stress symptoms such as high blood pressure, pain and maybe even hot flashes can be improved with music.
A recent Japanese study found that listening to your favorite tunes or enjoying humor can lower your blood pressure about as much as cutting down on salt in your diet or losing 10 pounds of weight.
Japanese researcher Eri Eguchi followed people ages 40 to 74 that participated in twice-monthly hour-long sessions designed to provide either a person’s favorite type of music, humorous story telling (they were also encouraged to listen to music often at home), or no therapy at all. By the end of three months, the individuals listening to music or humor lowered their average systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 5-6 points. Those people who didn’t listen to music or increase their laughter didn’t budge their blood pressure.
This study and other ones like it don’t suggest you can listen to music and not take blood pressure medication if your blood pressure is high. But lowering your blood pressure even 5-6 points might lower the amount of medication you require and small reductions in blood pressure of this amount can lower your risk of death from heart disease or stroke by 5% to 15%.
In a previous study from the University of Maryland by Dr. Michael Miller, listening to upbeat music improved the ability of blood vessels to expand 30% as blood passed through them. This is the opposite of hardening of the arteries, also called atherosclerosis.
We know that stress increases release of the adrenal stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) and over time, those raging hormones raise blood pressure, increase asthma and eczema, lead to depression, and muscle pain. It also increases menopause symptoms such as hot flashes. What a wonderful thing that listening to music can reduce stress, blood pressure hot flashes and more.
That’s why I created a Relax: Instrumental Music CD. Listen below to one of the tracks made into a 3-minute music video of relaxing water scenes.
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About: Mache Seibel MD:
Machelle (Mache) Seibel, MD is one of America’s top health communicators. Whether speaking, consulting, writing or composing he teaches people the health information they need and the perspective they require to stay well. His passion is to help America stay well. “It’s better to stay well than to get well.” Professor and Director, Complicated Menopause Program, University of Massachusetts Medical School 2004-Present Founder of HealthRock®, reshaping health education with music and entertainment Harvard Medical School faculty nearly two decades Past Medical Director, Inverness Medical Innovations (now Alere) 2008 Recipient, Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumnus Award, the University of Texas Medical Branch’s highest honor Multiple national awards for research, writing, music and patient education received Author/editor 14 books, over 200 scientific articles, past editor-in-chief of the medical journal Sexuality, Reproduction & Menopause Advisory board of Dr. Mehmet Oz’s HealthCorps initiative to fight childhood obesity Repeatedly voted into Best Doctors in America Hosted PBS and NYC TV episodes, frequent media expert http://www.doctorseibel.com/