Listening to music while driving can protect you against cardiac arrest, study reveals

Research has revealed that listening to music while driving reduces stress levels and helps fight off cardiac arrest

Self-driving car
Representative picture

Turning the music on while driving can help you fight cardiac arrest, a study suggests, revealing that listening to music while driving can reduce stress -- a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease and sudden cardiac complications such as heart attack.

As per the study by researchers at São Paulo State University (UNESP) in Marília, Brazil, selecting suitable driving music can be one of the ways to mitigate the risk of cardiac arrest as listening to instrumental music, for example, may relieve cardiac stress.

The findings published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine suggested that cardiac stress in five women between the ages of 18 and 23 years was reduced by listening to music while driving.

Vitor Engracia Valenti, a professor at UNESP Marília and a principal investigator of the project, said the team opted to assess women who were not habitual drivers because people who drove frequently and had a license for a long time were better adapted to stressful situations in traffic.

The analysis of participants' heart rate variability, which estimates the level of cardiac stress, showed there was a reduction in heart rate in volunteers who drove without music, indicating a lower level of parasympathetic nervous system activity but sympathetic nervous system activation.

The heart rate variability is influenced by the autonomic nervous system – the more active the sympathetic nervous system, the faster the heartbeats, while the parasympathetic nervous system tends to slow it down.

The heart rate variability increased in the drivers who listened to music, indicating a higher level of parasympathetic nervous system activity and a reduction in sympathetic nervous system activity. The researcher said the results could contribute to the creation of cardiovascular preventative measures in situations of acute stress such as driving in heavy traffic.

"Listening to music could be such a preventive measure in favour of cardiovascular health in situations of intense stress such as driving during rush hour," he added. Another study, also conducted by scientists from São Paulo State University (UNESP) in Brazil, suggested listening to music significantly enhanced the effect of anti-hypertensive drugs.

The study published in the journal Scientific Reports revealed that music intensified the beneficial effects of medication a short time after taken to control high blood pressure. The music of Mozart and Strauss had in earlier studies been associated with lower blood lipid concentrations as well as the heart rate, and numerous other researches have linked listening to music with a decrease in stress level and an improvement in mental health condition.

"Dedicating time each day to listen to music that triggers different emotions can have a hugely beneficial impact on our well-being," Lyz Cooper from the British Academy of Sound Therapy explained.

He added that listening to happy songs increased blood flow to areas of the brain associated with reward, and decreased flow to the amygdala -- the part of the brain associated with fear.