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Original article

Vol. 150 No. 3738 (2020)

Choir singing improves respiratory muscle strength and quality of life in patients with structural heart disease – HeartChoir: a randomised clinical trial

Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20346



Most patients with reduced exercise capacity and acquired or congenital structural heart disease also have a reduced respiratory muscle strength. The aim of this pilot study was to investigate whether choir singing in combination with respiratory muscle training positively influences respiratory muscle strength, exercise capacity and quality of life in this population.


In this single-centre, randomised and open-label interventional study we compared respiratory muscle strength, exercise capacity and quality of life in patients with acquired or congenital structural heart disease who received either standard of care and a 12-week intervention (weekly choir rehearsal and daily breathing exercises) or standard of care alone. The primary endpoint was the difference in change in maximum inspiratory pressure (∆MIP%predicted). Secondary endpoints included the difference in change in maximum expiratory pressure (∆MEP%predicted), exercise capacity quantified as maximal oxygen uptake during exercise (∆MVO2%predicted) and quality of life quantified by the Minnesota living with heart failure questionnaire (∆MLHFQ score).


Overall 24 patients (mean age 65, standard deviation [SD] 19 years, 46% male) were randomised after exclusion. ∆MIP%predicted was significantly higher in the intervention group (∆MIP%predicted +14, SD 21% vs −14, SD 23%; p = 0.008) and quality of life improved significantly (∆MLHFQ score −5, SD 6 vs 3, SD 5; p = 0.006) after 12 weeks. ∆MEP%predicted and ∆MVO2%predicted did not differ between both groups (∆MEP%predicted −3, SD 26% vs −3, SD 16%; p = 1.0 and ∆MVO2%predicted 18, SD 12% vs 10, SD 15%; p = 0.2).


Choir singing in combination with respiratory muscle training improved respiratory muscle strength and quality of life in patients with structural heart disease and may therefore be valuable supplements in cardiac rehabilitation. (Clinical trial registration number: NCT03297918)


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