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Heart 96:1868-1871 doi:10.1136/hrt.2010.209858
  • Review

The effects of music on the cardiovascular system and cardiovascular health

  1. Hans-Joachim Trappe
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hans-Joachim Trappe, Department of Cardiology and Angiology, University of Bochum, Hoelkeskampring 40, D-44625 Herne, Germany; hans-joachim.trappe{at}ruhr-uni-bochum.de
  • Accepted 28 September 2010

Abstract

Music may not only improve quality of life but may also effect changes in heart rate and heart rate variability. It has been shown that cerebral flow was significantly lower when listening to ‘Va pensiero’ from Verdi's ‘Nabucco’ (70.4±3.3 cm/s) compared with ‘Libiam nei lieti calici’ from Verdi's ‘La Traviata’ (70.2±3.1 cm/s) (p<0.02) or Bach's Cantata No. 169 ‘Gott soll allein mein Herze haben’ (70.9±2.9 cm/s) (p<0.02). There was no significant difference in cerebral flow during rest (67.6±3.3 cm/s) or when listening to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (69.4±3.1 cm/s). It was reported that relaxing music significantly decreases the level of anxiety of patients in a preoperative setting (State–Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI)-X-1 score 34)—to a greater extent even than orally administered midazolam (STAI-X-1 score 36) (p<0.001). In addition the score was better after surgery in the music group (STAI-X-1 score 30) compared with the midazolam group (STAI-X-1 score 34) (p<0.001). Higher effectiveness and absence of apparent adverse effects make relaxing, preoperative music a useful alternative to midazolam for premedication. In addition, there is sufficient practical evidence of stress reduction suggesting that a proposed regimen of listening to music while resting in bed after open-heart surgery is important in clinical use. After 30 min of bed rest, there was a significant difference in cortisol levels between the music (484.4 mmol/l) and the non-music group (618.8 mmol/l) (p<0.02). Vocal and orchestral music produce significantly better correlations between cardiovascular or respiratory signals compared with music with a more uniform emphasis (p<0.05). The greatest benefit on health is visible with classical music and meditation music, whereas heavy metal music or techno are not only ineffective but possibly dangerous and can lead to stress and/or life-threatening arrhythmias. The music of many composers most effectively improves quality of life, will increase health and probably prolong life, particularly music by Bach, Mozart or Italian composers.

Footnotes

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.