MAY 20, 2020 9:48 PM PDT

Hearts Beat Differently to Music

WRITTEN BY: Lawrence Renna

Does some music relax you, does other music excite you? There is a physiological response to music, and your heart may be involved. Also, what music gets your "heart beating", may not for others.

A new study presented on EHRA Essentials 4 You, a scientific platform of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), concluded that individuals' hearts could respond very differently to music.

The study analyzed the heart activity of three patients that had been fitted with pacemakers due to mild heart failure. The three patients were taken to a live classical piano concert. The installed pacemakers effectively keep the heart rate of the patient's constant using electrical signals. The researchers of the study measured the pacemakers' electrical activity during the concert when there were stark changes in tempo, volume, or rhythm.

The researchers measured the time it takes the heart to recover after a heartbeat. "Heart rate affects this recovery time, so by keeping that constant we could assess electrical changes in the heart based on emotional response to the music," said Professor Elaine Chew of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

They found that there here significant differences across the individuals in terms of the heart's recovery time with the music. For some, particular musical transitions were stressful or arousing, with recovery time as low as five milliseconds. For others, the response time was much longer, indicating relaxation.

The project's medical lead, Professor Pier Lambiase of University College London said, "we are interested in the heart's recovery time (rather than heart rate) because it is linked to the heart's electrical stability and susceptibility to dangerous heart rhythm disorder." "In some people, life-threatening heart rhythm disorders can be triggered by stress. Using music we can study, in a low risk way, how stress (or mild tension induced by music) alters this recovery period."

Professor Chew acknowledged that the number of patients in the study is small, but the researchers amassed gigabytes of data. The results are currently being confirmed with eight additional patients.

The authors believe that this work could help in future therapeutics for cardiovascular issues using personalized calming music.


Sources: European Society of Cardiology

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Hello! I am a scientist currently living in Southern California, although I am originally from the east coast. I received my B.S. in Chemistry from Northeastern University in 2012, and my Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I also had a postdoctoral appointment at the University of California, Irvine. I have written 25+ peer-reviewed articles, several patents, and one book chapter. I am a reviewer for scientific manuscripts, and a freelance editor and writer. Outside of science, I enjoy spending time with my family, training Jiu-Jitsu, and baking sourdough bread. I am happy to be writing for LabRoots.
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