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Posted: May 28, 2008

Half-Hour of Music Daily Lowers Blood Pressure: Study

High blood pressure has been called the “silent killer,” but there’s nothing silent about new research findings that say listening to music for half an hour daily can lower your blood pressure level.
Italian researchers told the American Society of Hypertension meeting in New Orleans that listening to 30 minutes or more of music each day could substantially lower blood pressure.
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"Listening to music is soothing and has often been associated with controlling patient-reported pain or anxiety and acutely reducing blood pressure," lead researcher Dr. Pietro A. Modesti, of the University of Florence in Italy, wrote in a statement prepared for the medical meeting.
"But for the first time, today's results clearly illustrate the impact daily music listening has on ambulatory blood pressure."
Ambulatory blood pressure refers to measurements repeated over the course of a day. Doctors consider healthy blood pressure to be below 140/90 mmHG.
Hypertension is believed to affect one in every three adults in the United States.  Many sufferers are not diagnosed and therefore don't realize they have the condition, leading to the condition’s description as a “silent killer.” High blood pressure can lead to kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and other problems.  
The study led by Modesti tracked 48 people between the ages 45 and 70, who had mild hypertension. Researchers found that those who listened to Celtic, Indian or classical music for half an hour each day for one month showed significant reductions in blood pressure. 
During the study, 28 participants listened to 30 minutes of what the research team described as “rhythmically homogenous” classical music, Indian or Celtic music daily while performing controlled breathing exercises. The remaining participants functioned as a control group and made no changes to their daily routines.
Blood pressure readings measured one and four weeks later showed that the participants’ systolic blood pressure, the top number in the blood pressure reading, was significantly lower in the music listeners. In contrast, the control group experienced only minor, non-significant blood pressure reductions. On average, the blood pressure level among those who listened to music decreased by 3 mmHG at one week and 4 mmHG at one month, compared with those in the control group.  
"We are excited about the positive implications for both patients and physicians, who can now confidently explore music listening as a safe, effective, non-pharmacological treatment option or a complement to therapy," Modesti told the news agency Reuters.
"Sadly, despite the global focus on prevention, it is predicted that 56 billion people worldwide will be hypertensive by 2025," he said.
"In light of these devastating statistics, it is reassuring to consider that something as simple, easy and enjoyable as daily music listening, combined with slow abdominal breathing, may help people naturally lower their blood pressure."
However, Modesti and his colleagues made clear that they aren't suggesting anyone substitute breathing exercises and music for their medicine. Instead, they emphasized, "Easy and enjoyable daily music listening combined with slow abdominal breathing may help people naturally lower their blood pressure.”

Modesti also said that further studies are needed to confirm music’s effect in the long term.

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