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Music therapy can ease recovery from heart problems, reports the Harvard Heart Letter

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, like angina or heart failure. 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.

Read the full-length article: "Using music to tune the heart"

Also in this issue of the Harvard Heart Letter

  • November 2009 references and further reading
  • Sporadic high blood pressure deserves attention
  • Exercise prescription for diabetes
  • 6 steps to safer use of triple therapy
  • Using music to tune the heart
  • Heart Beat: Setting standards for pacemaker and ICD lead extraction
  • Heart Beat: Heart failure tough on B vitamins
  • Heart Beat: Statins before vascular surgery
  • Heart Beat: Go Mediterranean for the brain and heart
  • Heart Beat: Blood pressure reading affected by eating
  • In Brief
  • Ask the doctor: Is it worrisome to hear a pulse in my ear?

More Harvard Health News »

About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.