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Music Therapy Shown to Help the Heart

A recent issue of the Harvard Heart Letter has noted how listening to music can help ease stress and maybe even lower blood pressure.

Music can make you laugh or cry, rile you up or calm you down. Some say it’s good for the soul. It just might be good for the heart, too, reports the November 2009 issue of the Harvard Heart Letter.

Make no mistake, daily doses of Mozart won’t clean out your arteries or fix a faulty heart valve. But music can help ease your recovery from a cardiac procedure, get you back to normal after a heart attack or stroke, relieve stress, and maybe even lower your blood pressure a tad.

As researchers have turned their attention to the effects of music on the cardiovascular system, they have found that listening to music can lower blood pressure, slow the heart rate, and lessen anxiety in people hospitalized for heart ailments. It can ease pain and distress after cardiac surgery. In otherwise healthy people, music can lower blood pressure and ease stress.

Today, music therapy is most commonly used for people undergoing a cardiac procedure and for those recovering from a heart attack or learning to cope with heart failure or another cardiovascular condition, such as angina. For them, music therapy can alleviate stress, provide a pleasant coping strategy, and impart a feeling of control.

The Harvard Heart Letter notes that there are several ways to let music into your heart. One is to work with a music therapist. If you can’t find one through your cardiologist or medical center, try the American Music Therapy Association. Do-it-yourself music therapy is another option. Find some music that makes you feel good. Then sit and listen to it for 20 minutes or so.

The Harvard Heart Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School. Subscribe at And to read more about the use of music in the spa, check out Skin Inc. magazine's December 2009 article "The Sounds of Spa."