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Study shows jazz and silence help reduce heart rate after surgery

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Researchers are one step closer to confirming what people in New Orleans have known for decades: Jazz is good for you. Patients undergoing elective hysterectomies who listened to jazz music during their recovery experienced significantly lower heart rates, suggests a study presented - fittingly in New Orleans - at the ANESTHESIOLOGY™ 2014 annual meeting.

But the research also found that silence is golden. Patients who wore noise-cancelling headphones also had lower heart rates, as well as less pain.

The results provide hope that patients who listen to music or experience silence while recovering from surgery might need less pain medication, and may be more relaxed and satisfied, note the researchers.

“The thought of having a surgical procedure – in addition to the fears associated with anesthesia – creates emotional stress and anxiety for many patients,” said Flower Austin, D.O., anesthesiology resident, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pa., and lead study author. “Physician anesthesiologists provide patients with pain relief medication right after surgery. But some of these medications can cause significant side effects.”

A total of 56 patients were randomly assigned to listen to jazz music (28 patients) or to wear noise-cancelling headphones (28 patients) in the postoperative care unit (PACU). Heart rate, blood pressure and pain and anxiety levels were checked right after surgery (baseline), and then at regular intervals during the subsequent 30-minute intervention period.  The heart rates were significantly lower compared to baseline for both groups. After 20 minutes, heart rates were lower in the jazz group than in the noise-cancellation group. However, pain scores were lower in the noise-cancellation group compared to the jazz group after 10 minutes.

Although jazz does not seem to help with pain, studies have shown that music is therapeutic.

“The goal is to find out how we can incorporate this into our care,” said Dr. Austin. “We need to determine what kind of music works best, when we should play it and when silence is best.  But it’s clear that music as well as silence are cost effective, non-invasive and may increase patient satisfaction.”

Note: Material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA)   press release