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The therapeutic effects of music have been known for thousands of years. Recently, studies with music interventions in patients with cardiovascular diseases yielded controversial results. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the effects of receptive music intervention on the cardiovascular system.
We searched in PubMed, SCOPUS and CENTRAL for publications between January 1980 and May 2018. Primary endpoints were heart rate, heart rate variability and blood pressure. Secondary endpoints comprised respiratory rate, anxiety and pain. The quality of the studies was assessed by using the CONSORT statement and the Cochrane risk of bias assessment tool. A meta-analysis and subgroup analyses concerning music style, gender and region were planned.
A total of 29 studies comprising 2579 patients were included and 18 studies with 1758 patients investigated the effect of music on patients undergoing coronary angiography or open heart surgery. Other studies applied music to children with congenital heart diseases, pregnant women with hypertension or patients with unstable angina. Due to high methodological study heterogeneity, a meta-analysis was not performed. The study quality was assessed as medium to low. In ten studies with higher quality comprising 1054 patients, music intervention was not associated with significant changes in the cardiovascular endpoints compared to the control group. The subgroup analyses did not demonstrate any relevant results.
Currently no definite effect of receptive music intervention on the cardiovascular system can be verified. Further research is needed to assess music as an inexpensive and easy applicable form of therapy.