iPods are good for your heart – at least they can help doctors make the right diagnosis of the sounds they can hear.

Professor Michael Barrett MD at the American College of Cardiology last year launched a project in which the sound of hearts beating were made available to students in MP3 format for their iPods.

The aim was to help student interns understand the noises a heart makes when they listen to it using a stethoscope.

According to PhysOrg.com, the professor assembled a recording of five common heart murmurs: aortic stenosis, aortic regurgitation, mitral stenosis, mitral regurgitation and innocent systolic murmur.

After listening to the recording, the average rate of correct diagnosis of heart murmurs among his students climbed from the generally-accepted medical average of 40 per cent to an impressive 8- per cent.

"Medical students greatly improved their stethoscope skills by listening repeatedly to heart sounds on their iPods," the report explains.

Now Barrett plans another study of cardiologists gathered at the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans this week.

Boosted by the success of the project so far, Barrett's medical school recently launched a four-year curriculum course teaching students how to diagnose heart conditions correctly through, using a range of tools, including iPods.