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Do You Need a Musical Prescription to Lower Your Blood Pressure?

By Skye Sherman  •   January 2, 2024
•    Medically Reviewed By Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Jan 19, 2024

Photo Credit: by Freepik.com
Photo Credit: by Freepik.com

Have you ever listened to your favorite song and simply felt better? Have you ever heard of the study that found that plants grow differently when different types of music are played to them? It’s amazing the way that sounds and auditory experiences can affect us.

Recent research has shown that musical prescriptions may be the next breakthrough in health care. As the University of Alberta puts it, “What if the next time you picked up a prescription for medication, it came with an accompanying prescription for a specific piece of music? That could become a reality in the future.”

If you need further proof, consider this: a study examined whether being prescribed certain types of music may improve mood.

ScienceDirect states: “Music is used in a variety of health contexts for mood regulation purposes. However, while research demonstrates that self-selected music is most effective in using music to alter mood in a positive direction, some people, particularly those with tendencies to depression, may incline towards music that perpetuates a negative mood.”

You already know how music might affect your mood or mental and emotional wellbeing, but what about the rest of your body? In this article, we’ll take a look at how music might be able to lower your blood pressure and improve hypertension.

The musical prescription: how can music lower your blood pressure?

Everyone wants to live a long time and feel happy while they do it. You may be skeptical that music really has the power to affect our bodies on a physical level, but think about how you feel when different types of music are played. In addition, think about the type of music played in a spa as opposed to the type of music played to pump up athletes before a big game.

Now imagine if those two types of music were switched. It’s easy to see the power of sound in this scenario! So why wouldn’t music also be able to decrease hypertension and have other effects on the human body?

The University of Alberta states, “research has proven that music exposure has an effect on particular hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, as well as neurotransmitters and signaling proteins called cytokines. … certain types of music could affect the activities of metabolism enzymes or particular proteins called transporters that are responsible for clearing drugs from the human body.”

While your ears may not seem connected to your blood pressure, the research shows that what you hear has the power to change how you feel and even the physiological processes going on inside your body.

How does it work, exactly? Harvard Health shines a light:

“Like other pleasurable sensations, listening to or creating music triggers the release of dopamine, a brain chemical that makes people feel engaged and motivated … Sound processing begins in the brainstem, which also controls the rate of your heartbeat and respiration. This connection could explain why relaxing music may lower heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure — and also seems to ease pain, stress, and anxiety.”

How should you listen to music to lower blood pressure?

Research suggests that listening to music each day may significantly lower your blood pressure, but it matters if you listen to it for half an hour or less, and it matters what type of music you are playing.

A small study published on Heart Matters states: “listening to music by Mozart and Strauss for 25 minutes lowered both systolic blood pressure (this is when your heart contracts and blood is forced through the arteries) and diastolic blood pressure (when the heart is at rest between beats). If they regularly listened to Mozart, Strauss or ABBA it still reduced their blood pressure in the study.”

While this study was small, the implications are important.

Another study published in Reuters yielded similar results: “researchers found that people with mild hypertension (high blood pressure) who listened to classical, Celtic or Indian (raga) music for just 30 minutes a day for one month had significant reductions in their blood pressure.”

What if your blood pressure medication like Norvasc or Temormin came coupled with a prescription to listen to 25 minutes of Mozart per day? Or classical music? It works best if you also do slow breathing exercises while listening to the music.

Maybe the next time you take a hot bath to wind down, you should consider putting your devices away, turning on some relaxing music, and breathing deeply, and then re-evaluating how you feel overall.

This research is more important than ever, because according to Reuters, “despite the global focus on prevention, it is predicted that 56 billion people worldwide will be hypertensive by 2025 … 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.”

What types of music benefit various medical conditions?

Remember that the type of musical prescription for blood pressure is important.

“The researchers suggested that, in order for music to reduce blood pressure, it should have no lyrics, have few changes in volume or rhythm, have harmonies that ‘are not rousing’, and that certain parts of the music should be repeated in intervals,” according to Heart Matters.

More research is required to examine music with a wide range of tempos and rhythms from various genres, to see how various factors might affect various conditions, but it seems our hearts make their own type of music so it’s high time to tune in!

Remember that other ways to lower blood pressure include stress management, lowering sodium intake, as well as exercising. If you’re hoping to lower your blood pressure by putting on a pair of headphones and not taking any other actions, you might be disappointed.

But hypertension isn’t the only condition that may be aided by music, and mood disorders aren’t the only other category that can be improved by music.

In fact, music-based interventions may have the power to affect anxiety, depressive symptoms, pain associated with a variety of health conditions, and some symptoms associated with dementia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and more.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health even links music therapy to having benefits for autism, cancer, COPD, schizophrenia, and tinnitus. Even preterm infants may be aided by listening to relaxing music. Listening to music has even been shown to help with neuroplasticity (formation of new neuronal connections) in these infants but even in Alzheimer’s patients! The NCCIH states: “Performing or listening to music activates a variety of structures in the brain that are involved in thinking, sensation, movement, and emotion. These brain effects may have physical and psychological benefits.”

Talk to your doctor about whether a musical prescription may help you or may complement the course of drugs you have already been prescribed for your ailment.



The purpose of the above content is to raise awareness only and does not advocate treatment or diagnosis. This information should not be substituted for your physician's consultation and it should not indicate that use of the drug is safe and suitable for you or your (pet). Seek professional medical advice and treatment if you have any questions or concerns.