Listening to music can lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health, according to a new study.
During their study, researchers at Maryland University found that if a patient listens to 30 minutes a day of their favourite music, it does more than relaxing them mentally - it also benefits them physically by expanding and clearing blood vessels.
AdvertisementThe method has been tried on some patients in America and it has been welcomed by British experts.
Music is believed to work by triggering the release into the bloodstream of nitric oxide, which helps to prevent the build-up of blood clots and harmful cholesterol.
The researchers have found that songs by Red Hot Chili Peppers and Madonna can improve endurance, while 18th-century symphonies can improve mental focus.
However, when it comes to the effect on the bloodstream, the key is not the type of music but what the listener prefers. The same is true of volume and tempo.
"The music effect lasts in the bloodstream for only a few seconds but the accumulative benefit of favourite tunes lasts and can be very positive in people of all ages," Times Online quoted Michael Miller, director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at Maryland University, who conducted the study, as saying.
"We were looking for cheaper, nonpharmacological aids to help us improve our patients' heart health and we think this is the prescription," he added.
The study, based on healthy non-smoking men and women with an average age of 36, found the diameter of blood vessels in the upper arm expanded by 26 percent in volunteers listening to music they found enjoyable.
Miller said blood vessel expansion indicated that nitric oxide was being released throughout the body, reducing clots and LDL, a form of cholesterol linked to heart attacks.
He also warned that listening to stressful music, which for many in the experiments included heavy metal and rap, can shrink blood vessels by 6 percent.
Miller also advised parents to avoid listening to their teenage children's music if it upset them because it could be the aural equivalent of passive smoking.
"I like Merseybeat-era Beatles and Julia from their White Album and you cannot get two more different types of song, but I think both work for my heart," he said.
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