Researchers at Orebro University Hospital, in Sweden, evaluated the effect of bed rest + music on the first day after surgery in order to decrease stress.

First, the details.

  • 58 patients who underwent open coronary artery bypass grafting or aortic valve replacement surgery were studied.
  • Stress response was assessed by measuring the following parameters.
    • Cortisol blood levels
    • Heart and respiratory rate
    • Blood pressure
    • Arterial oxygen tension (PaO2, amount of oxygen in the arterial blood)
    • Arterial oxygen saturation (below 90% causes hypoxemia)
    • Subjective pain and anxiety levels.
  • At noon on day 1 after surgery, patients were assigned to a treatment group.
    • 30 minutes of uninterrupted bed rest + music and then 30 minutes of bed rest
    • 60 minutes of uninterrupted bed rest.
  • The music was soft and relaxing, included different melodies in new-age style, played with a volume at 50 to 60 dB, and distributed through a music pillow connected to an MP3 player.

And, the results.

  • After 30 minutes of bed rest, there were significantly lower cortisol levels in the bed rest + music group vs the bed rest only group.
  • However, this difference in cortisol levels was short-lived and not present 30 minutes later.
  • There was no difference in the other parameters.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “There is sufficient practical evidence of stress reduction to suggest that a proposed regimen of listening to music while resting in bed after open heart surgery be put into clinical use.”

The study is important because it documents a well-defined, short-lived response to music under well-defined circumstances — during the first day after heart surgery

The results also support an earlier study summarized here.

9/30/10 20:30 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.