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Music to Your Heart: How Mozart Can Help Lower Your Blood Pressure

A new study found that listening to relaxation tapes or Mozart three times a week may reduce blood pressure in the elderly. The results were presented on September 17th at the American Heart Association's 62nd annual conference of the Council for High Blood Pressure.

For the study, researchers from the College of Nursing at Seattle University recruited 41 seniors living in retirement communities. The participants were divided in half and randomly assigned to two groups.

The first group listened to a 12 minute relaxation tape describing breathing and relaxation exercises over a background of soothing ocean sounds. The second group listened to a 12 minute Mozart sonata. Each group listened to the tapes three times a week for four months.

Researchers took blood pressure readings before and after the intervention. Once the active portion of the study had concluded, researchers asked participants to continue listening to the tapes. They took follow up blood pressure readings at one and three months after the study had concluded.

Using the blood pressure readings, researchers found that (during the active portion of the study) the relaxation tapes reduced average systolic blood pressure by 9 mm/Hg (from 141/73 to 132/70 mm/Hg) while the Mozart sonatas were associated with a 7 mm/Hg reduction (from 141/71 to 134/69 mm/Hg).

About half of the seniors continued to listen to the tapes after the study had concluded. According to blood pressure readings, only those who kept listening to the tapes experienced a prolonged decrease in blood pressure. Those who stopped listening saw their blood pressure revert back to pre-intervention levels.

Lead author Jean Tang noted that listening to relaxation tapes or classical music should not be considered a replacement for medication and other therapies. Instead, this study indicates that calming music could be a compliment to traditional treatments.

Other lifestyle changes have also been shown to help maintain healthy blood pressure levels. Not smoking, exercising, eating fruits and vegetables, limiting salt and caffeine can all contribute to keeping blood pressure low.
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