Tuesday January 28, 2020

Listening to Music While Driving Can Reduce Cardiac Stress

In a Study, Listening to music attenuated the moderate stress overload the volunteers experienced as they drove

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Listening to Music can be a preventive measure in favour of cardiovascular health in situations of intense stress such as driving during rush hour. Pixabay

Stress while driving is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease and sudden cardiac complications such as heart attack, but now researchers have found that listening to Music while driving can reduce cardiac stress.

“We found that cardiac stress in the participants in our experiment was reduced by listening to music while they were driving,” said study lead author Vitor Engracia Valenti, Professor at Sao Paulo State University in Brazil.

For the study, published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, researchers analysed the effects of music on cardiac stress in five women between the ages of 18 and 23.

“We opted to assess women who were not habitual drivers because people who drive frequently and have had a license for a long time are better adapted to stressful situations in traffic,” Valenti explained.

The volunteers were assessed on two days, in different situations and in a random order.

On one day, they drove for 20 minutes at rush hour (5:30-6:30 pm) along a three km route in a busy district of Marilia, a medium-sized city in the northwest of Sao Paulo, without listening to music.

On the other day, the volunteers drove the same route at the same time of day but listened to instrumental music on a CD player coupled to the car radio.

The use of earbuds or headphones while driving is a traffic offense.

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Stress while driving is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease and sudden cardiac complications such as heart attack, but now researchers have found that listening to Music while driving can reduce cardiac stress. Pixabay

“To increase the degree of traffic stress, we asked them to drive a car they did not own. Driving their own car might help,” Valenti said.

The level of cardiac stress was estimated by measuring heart rate variability using a heart rate monitor attached to the participant’s chest.

Defined as fluctuations in the intervals between consecutive heart beats, heart rate variability is influenced by the autonomic nervous system.

The more active the sympathetic nervous system, the faster the heart beats, while the parasympathetic nervous system tends to slow it down.

“Elevated sympathetic nervous system activity reduces heart rate variability, whereas more intense parasympathetic nervous system activity increases it,” Valenti said.

Analysis showed a reduction in heart rate variability in the volunteers who drove without music, indicating a lower level of parasympathetic nervous system activity but sympathetic nervous system activation.

Conversely, 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.

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The level of cardiac stress was estimated by measuring heart rate variability using a heart rate monitor attached to the participant’s chest while listening to Music. Pixabay

However, the sample size used in the study was too small but significant.

“Listening to music attenuated the moderate stress overload the volunteers experienced as they drove,” Valenti said.

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“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 said. (IANS)

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Here’s Why Stress Can Make Your Hair Go Gray

The researchers found that stress causes these nerves to release the chemical norepinephrine, which gets taken up by nearby pigment-regenerating stem cells

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The research, published in the journal Nature, found that stress activates nerves that are part of the fight-or-flight response, which in turn cause permanent damage to pigment-regenerating stem cells in hair follicles. Pixabay

Those annoying gray hair that tend to crop up with age really are signs of stress, according to a new study.

The research, published in the journal Nature, found that stress activates nerves that are part of the fight-or-flight response, which in turn cause permanent damage to pigment-regenerating stem cells in hair follicles.

“We wanted to understand if this connection is true, and if so, how stress leads to changes in diverse tissues. Hair pigmentation is such an accessible and tractable system to start with — and besides, we were genuinely curious to see if stress indeed leads to hair graying,” said study senior author Ya-Chieh Hsu from Harvard University in the US.

Because stress affects the whole body, researchers first had to narrow down which body system was responsible for connecting stress to hair colour.

The team first hypothesised that stress causes an immune attack on pigment-producing cells. However, when mice lacking immune cells still showed hair graying, researchers turned to the hormone cortisol. But once more, it was a dead end. “Stress always elevates levels of the hormone cortisol in the body, so we thought that cortisol might play a role,” Hsu said.

“But surprisingly, when we removed the adrenal gland from the mice so that they couldn’t produce cortisol-like hormones, their hair still turned gray under stress,” Hsu added. After systematically eliminating different possibilities, researchers honed in on the sympathetic nerve system, which is responsible for the body’s fight-or-flight response.

Sympathetic nerves branch out into each hair follicle on the skin. The researchers found that stress causes these nerves to release the chemical norepinephrine, which gets taken up by nearby pigment-regenerating stem cells. In the hair follicle, certain stem cells act as a reservoir of pigment-producing cells.

When hair regenerates, some of the stem cells convert into pigment-producing cells that colour the hair. Researchers found that the norepinephrine from sympathetic nerves causes the stem cells to activate excessively. The stem cells all convert into pigment-producing cells, prematurely depleting the reservoir.

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Those annoying gray hair that tend to crop up with age really are signs of stress, according to a new study. Pixabay

To connect stress with hair graying, the researchers started with a whole-body response and progressively zoomed into individual organ systems, cell-to-cell interaction and eventually all the way down to molecular dynamics. “We know that peripheral neurons powerfully regulate organ function, blood vessels, and immunity, but less is known about how they regulate stem cells,” said study researcher Isaac Chiu.

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“With this study, we now know that neurons can control stem cells and their function, and can explain how they interact at the cellular and molecular level to link stress with hair graying,” Chiu added. (IANS)