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Clinical Articles, Lead Article

Disco beat aids CPR timing

The song Disco Science by producer/songwriter Mirwais Ahmadzaï, is more helpful than no music for delivering the required number of chest compressions (CPR) after myocardial infarction (MI), before arrival at hospital, according to research published recently in Emergency Medicine Journal online.1

Researchers led by Professor Malcolm Woolard (Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University) examined the performance of 74 delegates attending an Australian College of Ambulance Professionals conference in Auckland, New Zealand, who volunteered to perform CPR on a training dummy.

35% of the volunteers were intensive care paramedics; 26% were paramedics; 20% were students; and 19% were other healthcare professionals.  

The proportion of volunteers who maintained compressions within the optimal range of 100 to 120 a minute, in compliance with 2010 guideline-compliant rates, was significantly higher when listening to Disco Science (82%) than when listening to Achy Breaky Heart (64%) by Billy Ray Cyrus, or no music at all (65%).

But over a third of compressions were still found to be too shallow, irrespective of the test method applied, and incorrect hand positioning was observed for over half to two thirds of all completed compressions.

  The authors conclude that, “considering the combined importance of correct depth and rate, [we] are unconvinced that music provides any benefit in improving the quality of CPR compared with a metronome or audible feedback, suggesting that that this interesting but unproductive area of resuscitation research should be discontinued”.

iStock_000016659794XSmallThe Bee Gees’ song Stayin’ Alive has previously been advocated as a suitable tune in the US, while the children’s song, Nellie the Elephant had been thought to be the optimal musical accompaniment to aid the delivery of CPR in the UK.

  But it has since been discredited because while it helps to maintain a compression rate of 100 a minute, it doesn’t help to provide the right compression depth of 5 to 6 cm, say the authors.


1 Woollard M, Poposki J, McWhinnie B, Rawlins L, Munro G, O’Meara P.  Achy breaky makey wakey heart? A randomised crossover trial of musical prompts. Emerg Med J 2011. doi: 10.1136/emermed-2011-200187.

Published on: December 1, 2011

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