Listening to the right kind of music can slow the heart and lower blood pressure, a study has revealed.
Rousing operatic music, like Puccini's Nessun Dorma, full of crescendos and diminuendos is best and could help stroke rehabilitation, say the authors. Music is already used holistically at the bedside in many hospitals. Not only is it cheap and easy to administer, music has discernible physical effects on the body as well as mood, Circulation journal reports.
Music with a faster tempo increases breathing, heart rate and blood pressure, while slower-pace music does the reverse.
Dr Luciano Bernardi and colleagues, from Italy's Pavia University, asked 24 healthy volunteers to listen to five random tracks of classical music and monitored how their bodies responded. They included selections from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, an aria from Puccini's Turandot, Bach's cantata No 169, Va Pensiero from Nabucco and Libiam Nei Lieti Calici from La Traviata.
Every musical crescendo - a gradual volume increase - "aroused" the body and led to narrowing of blood vessels under the skin, increased blood pressure and heart rate and increased respiratory rates. Conversely, the diminuendos - gradual volume decreases - caused relaxation, which slowed heart rate and lowered blood pressure.