Music Opens The Heart: A Cardiologist’s Joy

October 6, 2013
Katherine Austin Wooley



"Music acts like a magic key, to which the most tightly closed heart opens." So said Maria von Trapp, and perhaps you have felt the same way during a yoga practice or workout filled with music.

From the time I was a child I have found that a wide spectrum of musical styles speak to my soul and I have even co-produced a Broadway musical (  as an offshoot of that lifelong fascination with music. But can music really open a closed heart?

New research actually supports that it can.  Scientists in Europe presented data last month on music and theheart using very sophisticated tests of artery function. They found that exercising while listening to joyful music that increased feelings of happiness and relaxation for 30 minutes was superior to exercise alone in improving markers of artery health.

Just listening to music improved artery function but not as much as when combined with exercise.  It was hypothesized that joyful music during exercise may release an extra dose of endorphin "feel good" hormones that then affect arteries to make more nitric oxide and resulting vessel relaxation.

Prior studies have shown that music lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety, and reduces the need for pain medications after surgical procedures.

We probably all have our favorite playlists that could qualify as a joyful list but I have added some new ones that I have encountered recently to some older favorites.  The list reflects my recent introduction to kundalini yoga and my appreciation for the spiritual music found within that practice.

1)     Long Time Sun by Girish (also a beautiful version by Simrit Kaur)

2)     Narayana/For Your Love by Krishna Das

3)     Aad Guray Nameh by Gurunam Singh

4)     Be Still by The Fray

5)     Hallelujah by Snatam Kaur

6)     Kumbaya (Live) by Shlomo Carlebach

7)     Akal…deathless by Simrit Kaur

8)     Searching (Live) by Matisyahu

9)     Amen by Sirgun Kaur

10)   There is So Much Magnificence by Steve Gold

A long ago I would turn up the record player to the max and listen to Bruce Springsteen sing "it's not your lungs this time, it's your heart that holds your fate."

Fast forward 37 years and we have elegant science to confirm that this is true.  Music can open and heal hearts.

Dr Kahn is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School and practices cardiology with Michigan Healthcare Professionals, PC. He can be found on Twitter @drjkahn, on Facebook and at



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