Blog | Tuesday, November 11, 2008

File under "Why not?"

I'm off to a session about how listening to "joyful music" might improve endothelial function. This is one of those things-- like doing yoga, or drinking green tea-- that I put into the "might as well" category.

You don't want your patients trading exercise or medication for listening to happy songs and regular tea breaks, but these things can't hurt, so why not try them? As Dr. Mehmet Oz said yesterday, he doesn't prescribe yoga to his patients, but he does tell them he recommends yoga to his family members.

The joyful music study is far from rigorous-- it involved 10 healthy subjects with an average age of 35.6 years. Seven were male. Over a period of 30 minutes, they listened to joyful music, anxiety-producing music, funny video clips and relaxation tapes. The researchers measured a baseline brachial artery flow mediated dilation, and then measured it again during the study.

The results? Flow mediated dilation increased 26% during the joyful music, decreased 6% during the anxious music, increased 19% during the funny bits, and increased 11% during relaxation. So, ideally, I guess you should find a song that is happy and hilarious, yet relaxing.

I must say, I'm curious about how they classified the music. I've noticed one person's joyful music can be another's schlock, and a song that produces anxiety in me might be motivational to someone else. I'll report back after the session on what the experts say you should plug into your MP3 player, and you can judge for yourselves.

Update: Turns out the joyful music was of the subject's own choosing, as was the anxious music. Heavy metal was most often chosen as anxious music, while country was most often chosen as joyful (really? Isn't country known for its "tear in my beer" lyrics?). Oh, and the "laughter clip" included Saturday Night Live skits and sections of the movie "There's Something About Mary." I bet Cameron Diaz has no idea she's contributed to cardiology research.