IMAGE: G Point Studio

Patients who listen to jazz after undergoing surgery could lower their heart rates and consequently experience less anxiety, according to a study presented at the Anesthesiology 2014 annual meeting, which wraps up this week in New Orleans.

For post-operative pain management, researchers say noise cancellation headphones can help.

"The thought of having a surgical procedure -- in addition to the fears associated with anesthesia -- creates emotional stress and anxiety for many patients," says lead study author Dr. Flower Austin, D.O., anesthesiology resident at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. "Physician anesthesiologists provide patients with pain relief medication right after surgery. But some of these medications can cause significant side effects."

Dr. Austin and his team worked with 56 patients undergoing elective hysterectomies and assigned half of them (28 patients) to listen to jazz upon recovery and the other half to wear noise cancellation headphones post-op.

Heart rate, blood pressure, pain and anxiety levels were surveyed for 30 minutes with the first readings after surgery being used as a baseline measurement.

Both groups' heart rates decreased significantly, although the jazz group's heart rate was lower after 20 minutes than that of the noise cancellation group. The latter felt less pain than the former after 10 minutes, however.

"The goal is to find out how we can incorporate this into our care," says Dr. Austin. "We need to determine what kind of music works best, when we should play it and when silence is best. But it's clear that music as well as silence are cost effective, non-invasive and may increase patient satisfaction."