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A recent study published in the online journal Open Heart has indicated that listening to music can reduce pain and anxiety after heart surgery. According to the report, music has no known side effects and may also influence health outcomes.

Heart surgery always causes a lot of fear and anxiety during the whole procedure, leading to severe pain. According to scientists, the period a patient spends in the ICU exposes them to stressors that increase pain and anxiety. This pain and anxiety come from things like sleeplessness, mechanical ventilation, and noise.

In the past, research had indeed suggested that listening to music around the time of surgery can help relieve pain and anxiety in the patient. The recent study was designed to determine if music can help patients undergoing major heart surgery. In particular, scientists wanted to determine if music can speed up the healing process and reduce hospital stay length.

The researchers analyzed results from 20 studies involving 1169 patients. Much of the research mainly involved coronary artery bypass grafts and/or valve replacement. Besides, researchers used validated scoring systems and scales to measure pain and anxiety. These include the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Numeric Rating Scale, Visual Analogue Scale, and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory.

In this study, relaxing and free music with strong rhythms and percussion was used and mainly played through the headphones. Patients were allowed to select preferred music from pre-selected lists or lists developed by the researcher. Some patients were also allowed to listen to their playlists.

The researchers varied and repeated the music sessions numerous times on a single day or spread out over several days. In 14 studies, patients listened to music after surgery, while in five, they listened before, during, and after the surgery.

Control group comprised patients who received standard care (6), scheduled rest (8 studies), earphones without music, and breathing exercises.

From the data analyzed, scientists found that music helped reduce pain and anxiety after major heart surgery. The first music session after surgery reduced pain and anxiety by 4 points on the StateTrait Anxiety Inventory.