Friday, December 14, 2007

The Importance of Using Music as Part of the Lifestyle Change After a Heart Attack or Serious Cardiac Event

Research has recently begun catching up with the conventional wisdom that mental stress after having a heart attack can greatly increase the chances for future cardiovascular problems and incidents. The emotional strain and life altering consequences after having a heart attack or cardiac related surgery are only the first challenges. Daily events produce additional physical, emotional and mental stressors that are documented to lengthen recovery times.

I have developed a workshop called, Music for the Heart, that seeks to address the specific stress-inducing events that surround cardiovascular health problems. Recent research has emphasized the need for a holistic approach to health after heart attacks and cardiovascular surgery. I present tools and guidance in the workshop to help patients elevate their mood, learn to relax and introduce music as a leisure-time tool to help them make the post-cardiac event lifestyle change. Dr. Barry Bittman, MD, and the developer of the Health Rhythms program said, “Recreational music-making provides an extraordinary opportunity for people to regain a sense of balance and wholeness conducive to improved well-being.” (San Francisco Chronicle, September 28, 2001, Rhythm of Life: Pleasant Hill drum circle participants say monthly playing is therapeutic.)

I have had the opportunity to present the Music for the Heart program to several cardiologists and surgeons. There are several recent research studies that I point to in my discussions with the doctors about the potential for using music to facilitate the lifestyle changes for their patients. John C. Barefoot, PhD and Marianne Schroll, MD, DMSc conducted a study, "Symptoms of Depression, Acute Myocardial Infarction, and Total Mortality in a Community Sample," which concluded that high levels of depression are associated with greater chances for heart attack and mortality. This study was conducted over twenty-seven years with a large sample size of over seven hundred participants. Depression and negative mood are often the result of mental stress.

Two other studies have indicated that mental stress indicates a greater chance for myocardial ischemia and mortality after someone has already had a heart attack. One of these studies is, "Mental Stress-Induced Myocardial Ischemia and Cardiac Events." In this study more than one hundred patients with coronary artery disease were followed for up to five years. The researchers concluded that the presence of mental-stress induced ischemia is associated with significantly higher rates of later fatal and non-fatal cardiac events. Another study, "Mental Stress-Induced Ischemia and All-Cause Mortality in Patients With Coronary Artery Disease," found that patients with ischemia had a greater risk of dying when they were having mental-induced stress.

The evidence is clear that a patient's lifestyle is extremely important after a cardiac event. Cardiac rehabilitation programs encourage lifestyle changes that include stress-management strategies. I believe that music facilitated relaxation is a powerful tool to help people with managing stress. Music of some type is enjoyed by almost everyone and is an easy and appropriate way to help manage stress and elevate mood states. Related articles for using music in relaxation may be found in the
Most Popular Posts links and in the following articles:

A Guide for Home Relaxation
Kevin Kern Relaxation CD
Suggestions for Relaxation Music

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