Music for CPR

When heart attacks or other emergencies occur, it is important to respond quickly.  Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can support the flow of oxygenated blood across the body until medical care arrives.  CPR emphasizes chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2012).  Healthcare providers are encouraged to use conventional CPR according to their updated training, received about once every two years (AHA & ASA, 2014). You can find an online course or local training center here.

Anecdotal experience has suggested that the use of music as a mental metronome can improve CPR compression rates.  Researchers selected “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees which has an appropriate 103 bpm (and a perfect name), measured compression rates while medical providers listened to the song, then measured rates again at least five weeks later when participants were encouraged to use the song only as a musical memory aid.  All participants in both the first (x̅ = 109.1 bpm) and second (x̅ = 113.2 bpm) assessments maintained compression rates safely over 100 bpm.  Participants also reported that the music increased their confidence and technical ability to perform CPR (Hafner, Sturgell, Matlock, Bockewitz, & Barker, 2012; Matlock, Hafner, Bockewitz, Barker, & Dewar, 2008).  Disco music in general has a strong, steady tempo.  My most recent training featured Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust,” which is thematically ironic but rhythmically effective (e.g., Aleccia, 2008). Enjoy some lifesaving songs below!

American Heart Association & American Stroke Association. (2014). CPR & First Aid. Retrieved from

Aleccia, J. (2008). Keeping the beat for CPR? Hum ‘Stayin’ Alive’. Retrieved from

American Heart Association. (2014). Two steps to staying alive with hands-only CPR. Retrieved from

Argstatter, H., Haberbosch, W., & Bolay, H. V. (2006). Study of the effectiveness of musical stimulation during intracardiac catheterization. Clinical Research in Cardiology, 95(10), 514-522.

Bringman, H., Giesecke, K., Thörne, A., & Bringman, S. (2009). Relaxing music as pre-medication before surgery: a randomised controlled trial. Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica, 53(6), 759-64.

Goertz, W. Dominick, K., Heussen, N., & Dahl, J. (2010). Music in the cath lab: Who should select it? Clinical Research in Cardiology, 100(5), 395-402.

Hafner, J. W., Sturgell, J. L., Matlock, D.L, Bockewitz, E. G., & Barker, L. T. (2012). “Stayin’ Alive”: A novel mental metronome to maintain compression rates in simulated cardiac arrests. The Journal of Emergency Medicine, 43(5), 373-377.

Trappe, H. J. (2010). The effects of music on the cardiovascular system and cardiovascular health. Heart, 96(23), 1868-1871.

Matlock, D., Hafner, J.W., Jr., Bockewitz, E.G., Barker, L.T., Dewar, J.D. (2008). “Stayin’ Alive”: A Pilot Study to Test the Effectiveness of a Novel Mental Metronome in Maintaining Appropriate Compression Rates in Simulated Cardiac Arrest Scenarios. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 52(4), S67-S68.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2012). Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): First aid. Retrieved from


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