When testing our blood pressure we are actually measuring the pressure that the blood puts on the walls of the arteries. There are two numbers associated with blood pressure. There is the upper number known as the systolic reading and the lower number referred to as the diastolic reading. The systolic reading measures the pressure when the heart contracts and the diastolic reading measures the pressure when the heart is relaxing. A typical blood pressure for adults would be around 120 mmHg for the systolic reading and around 80 mmHg for the diastolic reading (read as 120/80 mmHg).Â
High blood pressure is a common problem in the United States today. About 1 out of every 3 adults over 20 have high blood pressure (or medically referred to as hypertension). In 2006,Â 56,561 Americans died due to high blood pressure. (americanheart.org) There are ways to control high blood pressure such as maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and several medications that can help lower it.Â
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In this experiment we tested the effect of different types of music on blood pressure and heart rate. The results of this experiment may present a new control for blood pressure. I believe that if a more relaxing genre of music is played, such as classical, then pulse rate and blood pressure will be lowered.
Materials & Methods
This experiment required just a few materials. A sphygmomanometer is necessary in order to measure blood pressure and heart rate. Two different genres of music to test the effects of a more relaxed type of music versus the effects of a more intense type of music. A stop watch is also useful in order to keep time consistent throughout the experiment.Â
To begin the experiment we divided the classroom into two groups. Group one was tested first and group two was in charge of doing the readings for their partner being tested. First, 90 seconds of Merzbow was played. Merzbow is an artist which falls under the genre of "noise" (this is the more intense genre of music). Blood pressure readings were taken after 30 seconds and 120 seconds of listening to this genre. Then after 90 seconds of the first trial a couple minutes of time were allowed for the blood pressure to return to normal. Then 120 seconds of Mozart was played and the readings were once again taken at 30 seconds and 90 seconds. After those two trials, groups one and two switched places and the process is repeated. Before or after this experiment is done it is important to take average readings of the blood pressure and heart rate while no music is playing in order to have data that can be used as the control. Without the control the data is not as useful. It is important to compare the control data to the data collected during the music trials and see if the music from the two different genres has any effect on heart rate and blood pressure. Â
When comparing the controlled data to the data collected during the music trials we used T-Tests to tell us if the music caused a significant change. These T-Tests helped us to analyze the data and told us if music really had a significant effect on pulse rate and blood pressure.
The results contain pulse rates, systolic blood pressures, and diastolic blood pressures of 23 subjects. Each subject had basal readings taken as well as readings taken while the subject was exposed to classical and noise music in a dark setting.Â
Three basal pulse rates, systolic blood pressures, and diastolic blood pressures were taken to begin the experiment. The average basal pulse rate of the 23 subjects was 75.65 BPM (with a range of 53 to 96), the average basal systolic blood pressure was 113.03 mmHg (with a range of 88 to 146), and the average basal diastolic blood pressure was 70.54 mmHg (with a range of 49 to 92).Â
After 30 seconds of exposure to noise music the following averages were obtained: pulse rate: 66.57 BPM (range: 41 to 89). Systolic blood pressure: 112.35 mmHg (range: 96 to 125). Diastolic blood pressure: 72.22 mmHg (range: 59 to 88). After 90 seconds of exposure to noise music the following averages were obtained: pulse rate: 67.43 BPM (range: 45 to 93). Systolic blood pressure: 111.61 mmHg (range: 84 to 133). Diastolic blood pressure: 69.87 (range: 56 to 80).Â
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After 30 seconds of exposure to classical music the following averages were obtained: pulse rate: 65.43 BPM (range: 47 to 86). Systolic blood pressure: 112.81 mmHg (range: 93 to 140). Diastolic blood pressure: 69.05 mmHg (range: 54 to 81). After 90 seconds of exposure to classical music the following averages were obtained:
pulse rate: 67.56 BPM (range: 43 to 90). Systolic blood pressure: 109.13 mmHg (range: 80 to 131). Diastolic blood pressure: 70.30 mmHg (range: 58 to 82).
Our T-Test of basal pulse rate vs. noise pulse rate after 30 seconds produced a p-value of .00019%. For basal pulse rate vs. classical pulse rate after 30 seconds our test produced a p-value of .0051%. Basal pulse rate vs. noise pulse rate after 90 seconds was .0045%. Basal pulse rate vs. classical pulse rate after 90 seconds wasÂ .0037%. The T-Test for basal SBP vs. noise SBP after 30 seconds gave a p-value of 74.9%. Basal SBP vs. classical SBP after 30 seconds was 75.2%. Basal SBP vs. noise SBP after 90 seconds was 55.1%. Basal SBP vs. classical SBP after 90 seconds was 10.7%.Â
My hypothesis for this experiment was that if a subject listened to a calmer genre of music, then it would cause heart rate and blood pressure to lower. According to several T-Tests, the difference between the basal pulse rate and the pulse rates recorded during the classical music and the noise music is significant. However, according to other T-Tests, the difference between the basal systolic pressure and the systolic pressure taken during both treatments is not significant. This goes for the diastolic pressure as well. This means that for pulse rate we can reject the null hypothesis, and for systolic and diastolic blood pressures we do not reject the null hypothesis.Â
When heart rate increases, it does not necessarily mean that blood pressure will increase along with it. When a healthy subject's heart rate increases, the arteries expand to allow easier blood flow throughout the body, therefore the blood pressure does not increase with the heart rate. With that in mind we could assume that all of the subjects are healthy. When classical music is played the heart rate decreases but does not have any effect on blood pressure. When noise music is played the heart rate also had a slight decrease with no significant effect on blood pressure. This was interesting to me because my expectation was that classical music would lower heart rate and noise music would raise heart rate. There is one factor which may have caused this unexpected decrease. When the basal heart rates were taken it was in a classroom setting with lights turned on and students talking. During the two treatments, the lights were turned off and the only sound was the music being played. As a subject myself, I found that when the lights were turned off I was extremely relaxed. So, even when the intense genre of noise music was played I was more relaxed than I was when my basal heart rate was taken. If I were to run this experiment again, I would make sure to take the basal readings in a dark, quiet setting. This may explain why both genres of music caused a decrease in heart rate instead of just the classical music as I had originally expected.Â
In the American Journal of Critical Care there was a music intervention study carried out on cardiac surgery patients. The study compared the heart rates and blood pressures of the patients in an environment with no music compared to an environment with music. The study revealed that the music did in fact decrease the patient's heart rate and systolic blood pressure. (Byers & Smyth 1997) This study supports some of our results. Our experiment did not significantly decrease systolic blood pressure but perhaps that is due to the fact that our study was carried out on random students while this study was carried out on cardiac surgery patients. Both studies however, do seem to support the fact that music causes a decrease in heart rate.
Some of our procedures in this experiment could have been done differently to better the outcome. As I mentioned before, the results would have been more accurate if the subjects had their basal readings taken in a dark, quiet environment. This would be a better control for the treatments considering the treatments were done in the dark. Another improvement for this experiment would be repetition. Each subject had 3 basal readings taken but only one reading at two different times during each treatment. The results would be more accurate if the treatments were carried out 3 times as well. Another weakness in this experiment was the equipment. A couple of the subjects had a faulty sphygmomanometer so some values during the 2nd treatment were left out. Another weakness in this experiment was time. The experiment was rushed due to a lack of time. Had more time been allowed there would have been more time for repetition and enough time to repeat trials that were interrupted.Â
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Our results prove that music does have a significant affect on heart rate. Our results are consistent with past experiments as well which makes the hypothesis more credible. However, further experiments should be carried out to see if a significant change occurs with systolic and diastolic blood pressures.
American Heart Association. Blood Pressure. http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4473. 09/12/2010.
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Rickard NS, Knight WEJ. 2001. Relaxing Music Prevents Stress-Induced Increases in Subjective Anxiety, Systolic Blood Pressure, and Heart Rate in Healthy Males and Females. Journal of Music Therapy XXXVIII.Â
Smolen D, Topp R, Singer L. 2002. The effect of self-selected music during colonoscopy on anxiety, heart rate and blood pressure. Applied Nursing Research: Volume 15, Issue 3, 126-136.