To evaluate the extent to which music may affect endothelial function. In previous research, a link between music and physiologic parameters such as heart rate and blood pressure has been observed.
Randomized four-phase crossover and counterbalanced trial in ten healthy, nonsmoking volunteers (70% male; mean age, 35.6 years) that included self-selections of music evoking joy or provoking anxiety. Two additional phases included watching video clips to induce laughter and listening to audio tapes to promote relaxation. To minimize emotional desensitization, subjects were asked to refrain from using self-selected tapes and images for at least 2 weeks before the assigned study phase. Endothelial function was assessed by brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and measured as percent diameter change after an overnight fast. After baseline FMD measurements, subjects were randomized to a 30-minute phase of the testing stimulus followed by poststudy FMD; they returned a minimum of 1 week later for the subsequent task. A total of 160 FMD measurements were obtained.
Compared with baseline, music that evoked joy was associated with increases in mean upper arm FMD (2.7% absolute increase; p < .001), whereas reductions in FMD were observed after listening to music that elicited anxiety (0.6% absolute decrease; p = .005 difference between joyful and anxiety-provoking music). Self-selected joyful music was associated with increased FMD to a magnitude previously observed with aerobic activity or statin therapy.
Listening to joyful music may be an adjunctive life-style intervention for the promotion of vascular health.
FMD = flow-mediated dilation.