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Music and medicine: The effects of music on the human being

Hans-Joachim Trappe
Department of Cardiology and Angiology, University of Bochum, Germany
[Applied Cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology 16: 133-142, 2012]


Music may not only improve quality of life but also effect changes in heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV). A greater modulation of HR and HRV was shown during musical performance compared to listening to music. Cerebral flow was significantly lower when listening to “Va pensiero” from Verdi’s “Nabucco” (70.4±3.3 cm/s) compared to  “Libiam nei lieti calici” from Verdi’s “La Traviata” (70.2±3.1 cm/s) (p<0,02) or Bach’s Cantata No. 169 „Gott soll allein mein Herze haben“ (70.9±2.9 cm/s) (p<0,02). There was no significant influence on cerebral flow in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony during rest (67.6±3.3 cm/s) or music (69.4±3.1 cm/s). Music significantly decreases the level of anxiety for patients in a preoperative setting compared to midazolam (STAI-X-1 score 36) (p<0.001). Listening to music while resting in bed after open-heart surgery leads to significant differences in cortisol levels between the music (484.4 mmol/l) and the non-music group (618.8 mmol/l) (p<0.02).

Key words: music performance, music perception, quality of life, music therapy, cardiovascular system

Address for correspondence:
Prof. Hans-Joachim Trappe, M.D.
Department of Cardiology and Angiology
University of Bochum
Hoelkeskampring 40
44625 Herne
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