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New weapon in successful heart transplants: opera

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A study in mice with heart transplants showed that those who listened to opera survived twice as long as those who listened to pop music.

If you ever need a heart transplant, you may want to request some opera for your recuperation.

A study found that mice with heart transplants who listened to classical music afterwards survived twice as long as those who listened to pop music.

The study was published in the March 23 issue of the Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

The study

The researchers, led by Masateru Uchiyama at Juntendo University Hospital in Tokyo, Japan, used mice who had been given transplants from unrelated donors, which meant the mice bodies would reject their transplants. They then listened continuously to either Verdi's La Traviata, Mozart concertos, music by Enya or a range of monotones.

The La Traviata listeners survived 26 days, the Mozart listeners survived 20 days and the Enya-listening group lasted only 11 days. The monotone group were worst off with a seven-day survival rate.

In order to find out whether vibrations or the actual music itself that was responsible for the difference, the researchers also subjected deaf music to the various types of music. All the deaf mice survived just seven days, making it likely that the music itself is what mattered.

How it worked

After viewing blood samples, the researchers surmised that classical music calmed the immune system, thereby slowing down the body's rejection of the organ. The mice who listened to opera and classical music had lower levels of substances that cause inflammation and higher levels of those that suppress it.

As Uchiyama told New Scientist, "We don't know the exact mechanisms but the harmony of Verdi and Mozart may be important."

The researchers now plan to see if the same effect holds in people. Research done in 2003 on bone marrow transplant recipients showed that music therapy combined with relaxation imagery can affect their experience of pain and nausea.

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via: New Scientist

photo: Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile/Flickr

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Laura Shin

Features Editor

Laura Shin has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times, and is currently a contributor at Forbes. Previously, she worked at Newsweek, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and LearnVest. She holds degrees from Stanford University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure