If you’ve been hollering Moby’s 1999 hit, ‘Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?’ lately, well the answer may simply be that you’re not listening to enough music.

The simple act of listening to your favourite tunes has been shown to aid the recovery of patients suffering from heart disease, while a team of Cardiologists have sought to prove that anyone can help the condition of their heart just by listening to music.

The findings, which were delivered at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual congress in Amsterdam, suggested that listening to music triggers the release of key hormones that aid in the body’s self-healing process, particularly of the heart.

“When we listen to music we like then endorphins are released from the brain and this improves our vascular health,” explained the lead investigator of the new study, Professor Delijanin Ilic of the Institute of Cardiology, University of Nis in Serbia.

Prof Ilic and her team studied 74 patients with cardiac disease to glean their heartwarming musical results. They divided the patients into three groups: one were enrolled in exercises classes for cardio-vascular strength for three weeks, another were put into the same training group but also told to listen to music of their choice for 30 minutes each day; the third group only listened to music, and did not take part in the cardio-vascular exercise classes.

At the end of the trail, the cardiac patients who listened to music as well as exercised showed an increase of up to 39% to their heart functions,including improved endothelial function, which regulates the heart’s response in the body. They were followed by the group that only took exercise classes, with an improvement capacity of 29%, while those that had no exercise and just listened to their favourite music for 30 mins each day improved by 19%, a significant increase for not doing any direct cardio-vascular training.

“Listening to favourite music alone and in addition to regular exercise training improves endothelial function and therefore may be an adjunct method in the rehabilitation of patients with coronary artery disease,” said Prof Ilic. “There is no ‘ideal’ music for everybody and patients should choose music which increases positive emotions and makes them happy or relaxed.”

What matters, emphasises Prof Ilic, is choosing “what the person likes and makes them happy.” That being said, the Cardiologist noted that other studies examining the impact of music suggested that some styles were less effective – heavy metal was more likely to raise stress levels, while classical and opera were more likely to improve the release of stimulating endorphins.

“It is also possible that it is better to have music without words, because it is possible that the words themselves can upset the emotions,” added Prof Ilic. So maybe avoid a playlist for your cardiac friends that contains ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’, ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, or similar bodily themed tunes.

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine