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Music Shown to Tame Cardiovascular Rhythms

Posted: June 24, 2009

Italian researchers have shown cardiovascular rhythms tend to fall in line with music, offering further ways for spa professionals to help their clients relax.

Music may indeed soothe the savage breast, according to a study showing that people's cardiovascular rhythms tend to fall in step with musical ones. In a study published Monday in the journal Circulation, Italian researchers found that healthy adults' heart rate, blood pressure and blood flow changed in response to musical crescendos and decrescendos.

Using several classical music selections, the investigators found that musical crescendos—a gradual increase in volume and intensity—generally led to increases in blood vessel constriction, blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate. The opposite was true with decrescendos, a gradual decrease in the music's volume.

The findings, say the researchers, bolster the case for using music as a form of therapy for high blood pressure and other cardiovascular ills. "The profile of music (crescendo or decrescendo) is continuously tracked by the cardiovascular and respiratory systems," lead researcher Dr. Luciano Bernardi, a professor of internal medicine at Pavia University, said in a news release from the American Heart Association. "This is particularly evident when music is rich in emphasis, like in operatic music."

Bernardi explained, "These findings increase our understanding of how music could be used in rehabilitative medicine."