Music Heals Heart
Here’s how the Associated Press reported what happened.
“Surrounded by cutting-edge medical equipment, the 83-year-old patient lay unconscious and sedated, with skinny electrode-equipped catheters snaking from veins in her right thigh and shoulder into her heart. They provided a conduit for a video monitor showing the squiggly waves of Zook's irregular heartbeat.
Like some weird sci-fi melding of heaven and high-tech Earth, the musician strummed serenely on her 4-foot Irish harp just a few feet away, while the patient snored and her doctor silently examined the ups and downs of rainbow-colored heart waves on the screen.
The music sounded lovely - but it was meant to help heal, not entertain.
Zook suffers a fast, irregular heartbeat caused by mixed-up electrical signals generated by the heart's upper chambers. Zook's symptoms include unnerving palpitations and troubling fatigue that make her suddenly collapse without warning.
Her doctor, Abraham Kocheril, says he has found signs that harp music helps sick hearts like Zook's beat more normally.
"People know that music relaxes you. We're just trying to get more medical validation," said Kocheril's harpist and co-researcher, Dr. Jennifer MacKinnon, 35, a Chicago internist. She took up harp-playing at age 10 and as a child, used to play for patients of her father, also a physician.
Zook, a retired high school cafeteria cook from tiny Fisher, Illinois, was dumbfounded when Kocheril told her he wanted a harpist play during her procedure.
"I said, 'You've got to be kidding,"' Zook recalled from her hospital bed. "I thought it was kind of crazy."
Her two daughters were also incredulous, and a doubting son-in-law sarcastically asked, "Is Gabriel going to be in there with the trumpet?"
Zook, who despite gray hair and glasses looks younger than her years, prefers Christian and country music to classical but now says she just might become a fan of classical harp.
"If it cures this, I will," she said smiling.
Kocheril said if his study shows that harp music works well, it might ultimately be used live or recorded outside a hospital setting to help patients avoid the need for high doses of medicine.
Preliminary results are promising.
Zook's heart rate slowed and the beats were more regular during the music and for several minutes afterward. Similar benefits occurred with the other study participants, Kocheril said.
Zook awakened from the procedure and told the doctor, "I didn't hear the music," her daughter, Pat Zook, recalled, "and he said, 'Your heart did."'
You don’t have to be a heart patient to benefit from classical harp music. You just need to have a beating heart and a CD player. The Secret Power of Words and Music package includes classical harp on many of the songs. Get your 5 CDs Now and wrap your heart in a blanket of relaxation.
Tania Gabrielle French
P.S. The Beatles’ Paul McCartney said this – “I have always adored Mahler, and Mahler was a major influence on the music of the Beatles. John and me used to sit and do the Kindertotenlieder and Wunderhorn for hours, we'd take turns singing and playing the piano. We thought Mahler was gear.” Never underestimate the power of classical music to inspire and relax you. Tune in now.