Hospitals around the country now make use of Mozart and Beethoven as well as morphine and bandages. Although the “Moonlight Sonata” certainly sounds better than the normal din of a hospital ward, the music isn’t there for entertainment. It’s being played because many nurses and doctors believe that a good dose of it can ease pain, reduce anxiety, and even protect the heart.
Does Music Therapy Work?
There’s no doubt that music is capable of lessening the anxiety often felt by seriously ill patients. A recent study from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee reported that heart attack survivors in a hospital ward said they felt less anxious immediately after listening to classical music. And the change was reflected in their bodies. Within a short time, their heart rates slowed from an average of 79 beats per minute to 71, and the average number of breaths they took dropped from 17 to 16 per minute. They also showed an increase in something called “heart-rate variability,” a sign that their hearts were growing stronger and more flexible.
As the leader of the University of Wisconsin study pointed out, anxiety can pose a serious threat in a heart ward. When you’re under stress, your body releases epinephrine, norepinephrine, and other compounds that set your heart racing and increase the risk of complications. By distracting patients from their fears and focusing their minds on something infinitely more soothing than memories of a heart attack, music may even help save their lives.
Keep reading: Page 1 of 3Next