Individuals with coronary heart disease often suffer from severe distress, putting them at greater risk for complications, including sudden cardiac death. It is therefore important that the care of people with coronary heart disease focuses on psychological as well as physiological needs. Music interventions have been used for many years to reduce anxiety and distress and improve physiological responses such as heart rate and respiratory rate in medical patients.
This review is an update of a previous Cochrane review from 2009 which suggested that music interventions may have a beneficial effect on anxiety and physiological responses in people with coronary heart disease but the quality of the evidence was not strong and the clinical significance unclear.
For this review, we searched for additional trials on the effect of music interventions on stress and anxiety in people with coronary heart disease. We searched for studies published up until November 2012 as well as ongoing studies until November 2012. We considered all studies in which any form of participation in music (e.g. listening to music, singing, playing music) was compared with any form of standard treatment and included persons with confirmed coronary heart disease. We identified four new trials for this update.
This review includes 26 trials with a total of 1369 participants. The trials were small in size. The findings suggest that listening to music may have a beneficial effect on systolic blood pressure and heart rate in people with coronary heart disease. Listening to music also appears to be effective in reducing anxiety in people with myocardial infarction, especially when they are given a choice of which music to listen to. Listening to music may also reduce pain and respiratory rate. However the size of the effects on pain and respiratory rate is small. Therefore, its clinical importance is unclear. Finally, listening to music appears to improve patients’ quality of sleep following a cardiac procedure or surgery. We found no evidence of effect for depression or heart rate variability, and inconsistent results for mood. No adverse effects of music interventions were reported. The majority of the studies examined the effects of listening to pre‐recorded music. More research is needed on the effects of music interventions offered by a trained music therapist. Overall, the quality of the evidence is not strong thus the results should be interpreted with caution.
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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews,”Music to reduce stress and anxiety for people with coronary heart disease“.