Those listening to Latin music on headphones ran an average 55 seconds longer under the Bruce protocol than peers randomized to silent headsets (505.8 versus 455.2 s, P=0.045). This advantage persisted even after adjustment, reported Waseem Shami, MD, a cardiology fellow at Texas Tech University in El Paso, at a briefing in advance of presentation at the American College of Cardiology meeting in Orlando.
Additionally, music helped participants to reach a higher metabolic equivalent of task (MET, 9.45 versus 8.67, P=0.094).
“This study really should be a positive for having [music] in daily practice,” Shami said. He suggested this effect is psychological and may have a dissociative component. “Who wants to be running on a treadmill in a gown, half naked, with doctors watching you? Music helps you disconnect from that, feel you’re not in that setting.”
“We should consider allowing people to listen to music to get the best out of their performance when doing treadmill or bicycle stress tests,” agreed John Higgins, MD, MBA, sports cardiologist at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. “Also, a good way to motivate people to exercise more is to encourage them to listen to their favorite tunes while exercising. But remember safety and make sure people are not listening so loud that they get distracted or fail to hear a bike or car coming up behind them too!”
Higgins said Shami’s finding was “not surprising” but rather “reinforces nicely what data we have — namely, that listening to tunes while working out typically improves performance on the order of 5% and up to 10%.”
Music may not be for all stress test patients, however. For one, it would not be a good choice for patients with tinnitus, Shami said, adding that certain types of music may also be distracting or not as motivating during exercise.
The trial included 127 patients from a largely Hispanic population. No baseline differences existed between the groups.
It would take more research including thousands of patients to show that music makes a difference, according to Shami. There is currently no standard for whether music is provided during stress testing in clinic or trial settings.
Shami and colleagues disclosed no relevant conflicts of interest.