Low Frequency Music Slows Heart Rate and Decreases Sympathetic Activity

James D. Halbert, Debra R. van Tuyll, Carl Purdy, Guang Hao, Steven Cauthron, Christine Crookall, Baban Babak, Richard Topolski, Ayman Al-Hendy, Gaston K. Kapuku


Objectives: Increasing blood pressure (BP) increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). Lower frequency music may lower BP and heart rate (HR), therefore, decreases the CVD risk. Methods: Participants were 16 high BP individuals aged 20 to 50 years. The protocol consisted of 2 visits (experimental & control). Music was tuned between 440 Hz and 432 Hz, and the frequencies changed every 10 minutes. HR variability, diastolic function, oxytocin, and amylase were recorded at each phase. An (ANOVA) was used to examine the effects of music. Results: Mental arithmetic significantly increased BP and HR (all ps<0.01). There were significant differences between the stress condition and all other conditions, all p’s < .02. There was a significant main effect for Music Order, F (1, 6) = 6.23, p = .047, ƞp2= .51, β = .55. Participants had lower HR listening to 432 Hz music (M = -7.20, se = 2.47) than 440 Hz music (M = -5.33, se = 2.71), t(7) = 2.53, p = .04, d ‘ = .41. Conclusion: Listening to low frequency music has cardiovascular benefits including slowing heart rate and promoting relaxation. Further study is needed to determine the underlying mechanisms of music induced beneficial effects.

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by The International Association for Music & Medicine