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Reading hexametric rhyme supports cardiac synchronization, especially after a heart attack

(July 14, 2004) - Bethesda, MD According to new findings from a team of European physiologists, you might receive greater health benefits (and probably a deeper appreciation of the classics) by forgoing the movie "Troy," and instead, reading The Iliad out loud. The gist of this new research focuses on the hexameter, the poetic format unique to classical Greek and Roman epic poems like those found in the works of Homer and Virgil.

Background

The effects of different breathing frequencies and patterns found in poetry readings on cardiovascular regulation have been investigated extensively in recent years. Poetry recitation has been known to cause a frequency adjustment of breathing oscillations with endogenous blood pressure fluctuations (Mayer waves) and even cerebral blood flow oscillations during the saying of the Catholic Rosary and the 'OM' mantra. This effect is attributed to the breathing frequency of approximately six breaths per minute induced by the metric of both religious verses. Researchers have also observed increased arterial baroreflex sensitivity, which is a favorable long term prognostic factor in cardiac patients. Thus, some have endorsed recitation of specific poetry as a means to control breathing patterns.

Many features of the cardiorespiratory control during recitation of poetry are still unknown. Recently, with simultaneous recordings of an electrocardiogram and a respiratory trace, new techniques for the analysis of cardiorespiratory interaction were developed. They unambiguously revealed that heart rate and respiration may intermittently synchronize. The application of these techniques promises new information about the cardiorespiratory interaction, specifically after a heart attack.

What is the Hexameter?

The ideal dactylic hexameter consists of six (hexa) metrons or feet called dactyls (fingers). Each dactyl consists of three syllables, the first long, the other t
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Contact: Mayer Resnick
mresnick@the-aps.org
301-634-7209
American Physiological Society
19-Jul-2004


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