Rx to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk: Listen to Music

Charalambos Vlachopoulos

Charalambos Vlachopoulos

Listening to music, both classical and rock, decreases aortic stiffness and wave reflection to reduce cardiovascular risk of death and disability, according to Athens Medical School’s Charalambos Vlachopoulos with Angelos Aggelakas, Nikolaos Ioakeimidis, Panagiotis Xaplanteris, Dimitrios Terentes-Printzios, Mahmoud Abdelrasoul, George Lazaros, and Dimitris Tousoulis.

Panagiotis Xaplanteris

Panagiotis Xaplanteris

Even “a brief period of mental stress can have an enduring effect on arterial stiffness,” Vlachopoulos and colleagues noted, suggesting the value of music listening as a health intervention to decrease stress and cardiovascular risk.

Dimitris Tousoulis

Dimitris Tousoulis

The team compared aortic stiffness and carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) reflections for 20 healthy volunteers after a half-hour rest period.
Then, participants were divided into three groups that listened to a half-hour of:

  • Classical music including excerpts from J.S. Bach’s Orchestral Suites OR
  • Rock featuring selections by Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Green Day OR
  • Silence.

Cardiovascular measurements were recorded immediately after the different auditory conditions, and then again after 30 minutes.

Liisa Ukkola-Vuoti

Liisa Ukkola-Vuoti

Participants who listened to either musical genre had lower aortic stiffness immediately after the music, and wave reflection was reduced for at least 30 minutes after the music.
This effect was even greater for those who preferred classical music, whether they listened to rock or classical selections.

Chakravarthi Kanduri

Chakravarthi Kanduri

Music’s “whole body experience” begins with genes:  Musical receptivity, perception, and creativity were linked to gene clusters and duplicate DNA associated with the brain’s serotonin systems in research by University of Helsinki’s Liisa Ukkola-Vuoti, Chakravarthi Kanduri, Jaana Oikkonen, Gemma Buck, Pirre Raijas, Kai Karma, and Irma Järvelä, collaborating with Christine Blancher of Oxford Genomics Centre and Aalto University’s Harri Lähdesmäki.

Jaana Oikkonen

Jaana Oikkonen

They found that neurotransmitter systems enable brain plasticity and connectivity in the brain’s posterior cingulate cortex.

Yi Ting Tan

Yi Ting Tan

Several chromosomes contain specific areas associated with musical perception, found University of Melbourne’s Yi Ting Tan, Gary McPherson, Samuel Berkovic, and Sarah Wilson, collaborating with Isabelle Peretz from University of Montreal.

Isabelle Peretz

Isabelle Peretz

They detected several locations on chromosome 4 tied to music perception and singing, and a specific area on chromosome 8q is implicated in music perception and absolute pitch.
In addition chromosome 12q’s gene AVPR1A was linked to music perception, music memory, and music listening, whereas SLC6A4 on chromosome 17q was associated with music memory.

These findings suggest music listening can be an easy, enjoyable way to enhance arterial function and cardiovascular health.

-*What physical effects do you notice when listening to your preferred musical genre?

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One thought on “Rx to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk: Listen to Music

  1. kathrynwelds Post author

    Gary W. Kelly wrote:

    Unfortunately, they do have plenty of stress in Greece to mitigate. I wondered that they did not try Greek music in their evaluations.

    I am a fan of new age, Celtic, native American, classical, and international music. I probably listen to music for more than 50 hours a week.

    Kathryn Welds replied:

    Great point, Gary!
    This study was done well before the current “Grexit” financial crisis, and you’re right – they didn’t evaluate Greek music.
    However, you’ve suggested an extension of the team’s work. Stay tuned!


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