Calming Music May Reduce Delirium Following Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

Listening to music before, during, and/or after stress-inducing medical procedures is associated with decreased levels of cortisol.

Music featuring calming noises from nature significantly reduces delirium following coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), according to study results published in the Journal of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Anesthesia.

Researchers conducted a randomized, single-center trial that comprised patients (N=200) undergoing CABG at the Milad hospital in Iran between 2020 and 2021. Study participants were randomly assigned to receive either the music intervention (n=100; 82% men; mean age, 62.2±7.5 years) or routine care (n=100; 78% men; mean age, 64.7±7.9 years).

The relaxation music was of the new age genre featuring bird, water, and wind sounds accompanied by piano or violin that was played for 1 hour at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm for 7 days and delivered via headphones at a 10% volume level. Patients were evaluated daily at 3:00 pm and 9:00 pm by the Confusion Assessment Method for the Intensive Care Unit (CAM-ICU).

Among the music and control cohorts 16% and 10% had no hypertension, diabetes, and/or hyperlipidemia comorbidities; and 96% and 90% smoked, respectively.

[T]his research could demonstrate music efficacy as a practical method for prevention and reducing delirium.

Clinical and surgical variables were well balanced between groups; however, the control group had significantly shorter operations compared with the intervention group (mean, 242.4 vs 261.6 min; P =.03), respectively.

A total of 3 in the intervention cohort and 12 in the control cohort were positive for CAM-ICU (P =.016) during intensive care admission in the first 48 hours following CABG.

No other significant differences were observed.

Limitations of the study include the fact that some patients expressed a lack of interest in the type of music. However, these patients were compliant and listened to the entire hour-long session at all intervention times.

Study authors concluded, “According to these findings, music reduced delirium incidence in post-CABG patients. However, the mean vital signs and venous blood gas parameters may not be influenced. Therefore, this research could demonstrate music efficacy as a practical method for prevention and reducing delirium.”


Esfahanian F, Mirmohammadsadeghi A, Gholami H, et al. Using music on the prevention of delirium in patients after coronary artery bypass graft surgery: a randomized clinical trial. J Cardiothorac Vascular Anesth. Published online September 9, 2022. doi:10.1053/j.jvca.2022.09.007