STAYIN' ALIVE

A major New York hospital recommends Hanson, Missy Elliot, and Lynyrd Skynyrd for timing CPR

Obsession
Life as Laboratory
Obsession
Life as Laboratory

Music can be a lifesaver—literally.

When first responders are being taught to perform hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation, known as CPR, on an adult whose heart has stopped beating, they’re told to administer 2-inch sternum compressions (between the nipples) at a rate of around 100 beats per minute (bpm). That’s a little less than twice a second, and can be hard to approximate. So thank goodness for pop music.

“Staying Alive” by the BeeGees is a classic example of a song that hits that 100 bpm benchmark (and has obvious connotations to the task at hand). Ditto Gloria Gaynor’s breakup anthem, “I Will Survive.” Looking for something a little less on the nose? Try Hanson’s mega-hit “MMMBop.” All of those tracks appear on a 100-bpm playlist released this week by New York Presbyterian Hospital.

The 40-song list—two hours and 28 minutes of CPR jams—also includes songs like ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and the Backstreet Boys “Quit Playing Games with My Heart.” Pop fans can enjoy tracks from Missy Elliot, Beyoncé, and Justin Timberlake, while alt-rock aficionados have Fall Out Boy, Modest Mouse, and the All-American Rejects to choose from.

The list also features Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” which may be fitting given the abysmal success rates of CPR—roughly 8%, even when backup help is called immediately. (Patients who have CPR performed on them are likely to experience other painful injuries, too, like crushed or ruptured organs. Admittedly, a small price to pay for a saved life.) That said, performing CPR more than doubles (paywall) the survival rate of patients who go into cardiac arrest.

CPR isn’t the only medical context in which tunes can set the mood: Surgeons often operate to music to help them focus.

home our picks popular latest obsessions search