Don’t you feel better when you hear your favorite song? With 85 percent of primary care visits attributed in part to stress, it’s pretty exciting that stress symptoms such as high blood pressure, pain and more can be improved with music.
A recent study from Japan 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 percent.
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 percent as blood passed through them. This is the opposite of hardening of the arteries, also called atherosclerosis.
We know that stress releases 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.