American College of Cardiology

American College of Cardiology

March 01, 2018
2 min read

Music improves exercise times during stress tests

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Waseem Shami

ORLANDO, Fla. — Patients who listened to up-tempo music during a cardiac stress test had improved exercise times compared with those who did not listen to music, according to data presented at an American College of Cardiology web briefing.

“Adding this up-tempo music to stress tests may help in reducing unnecessary testing,” Waseem Shami, MD, cardiology fellow at Texas Tech University Health Sciences and interventional cardiology fellow at Rutgers University Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said during the web briefing. “What I mean by that is, sometimes, our stress tests are a wash. The patient doesn’t reach a target. They don’t do as much exercise. We have to do another additional test, so it’s another cost. It’s another test for the patient. Perhaps this motivational tool can help us make this stress testing more valuable.”

In the single-center, randomized study, researchers analyzed data from 127 patients (mean age, 52 years; 36% men) who were assigned headphones with up-tempo music (n = 67) or no music (n = 60) during a scheduled CV ECG treadmill stress test.

“The inspiration for this study came from my own personal exercising,” Shami said. “One day, I was out jogging and my cellphone stopped working. There was no more music and I really didn’t feel like running anymore. I thought that was strange. I had the ability to run the same amount that I always run, and then suddenly without the music, I didn’t want to run anymore. I wondered if I could apply that tool to a clinical setting on a day-to-day stress testing to see if it makes a difference in patients’ outcomes.”

Bruce protocol was used during these tests. Data collected included BP, heart rate, distance and symptoms.

Baseline characteristics such as prior CAD, obesity, peripheral artery disease, hypertension and diabetes were similar in both groups.

Compared with patients assigned no music, those assigned music had a longer exercise time (505.8 seconds vs. 455.2 seconds; P = .045) and a trend toward longer metabolic equivalents of task (9.5 vs. 8.7; P = .094). After adjusting for age and sex, patients in the music group had more exercise time compared with the no-music group (P = .071).

“There is a need to evaluate the effect of self-selected choice of music during the exercise stress testing period. Our study used Latin music. We did it in El Paso, Texas, which has a primarily Hispanic population. Perhaps if the patient can choose what kind of music they can have, that might make an even bigger difference.” – by Darlene Dobkowski


Shami W, et al. Abstract 1182-006. Presented at: American College of Cardiology Scientific Session; March 10-12, 2018; Orlando, Fla.

Disclosure: Shami reports no relevant financial disclosures.