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Yoga Can Help Heart Failure Patients Stay Strong
  • Posted May 13, 2024

Yoga Can Help Heart Failure Patients Stay Strong

Yoga can help improve the long-term health of people with heart failure, a new study has found.

“Patients who practiced yoga on top of taking their medications felt better, were able to do more, and had stronger hearts than those who only took drugs for their heart failure,” lead researcher Dr. Ajit Singh of the Indian Council of Medical Research and Manipal Academy of Higher Education in India, said in a news release.

Heart failure can have devastating effects on a person's quality of life, leaving patients tired, breathless and unable to participate in their usual activities, researchers said.

The study included 85 patients between 30 and 70 years of age in treatment for heart failure at Kasturba Hospital in Manipal, India. They all had undergone a heart procedure within the past year, and were taking heart medications.

Researchers chose 40 people to participate in yoga, and 45 patients to just take their medicine as a control group.

Over a week's time, people in the yoga group were taught a yoga practice that focuses on breathing, meditation and relaxation. They then were advised to continue yoga on their own at home, in 50-minute sessions once a week.

Researchers checked the heart structure and function of all participants at the beginning of the trial, six months in and at one year.

The team measured the heart's ability to pump blood, the function of its main pumping chamber, as well as blood pressure, heart rate, body weight and body mass index (BMI). BMI is an estimate of body fat based on height and weight.

The yoga group demonstrated significantly better improvements across all those measurements, at both six months and one year, researchers report.

“Patients who did yoga had healthier hearts and were more able to carry out ordinary activities such as walking and climbing stairs than those who only took medications,” Singh said.

However, he warned that patients with heart failure should speak to their doctor before starting yoga and then receive training from an experienced instructor. They also should keep taking any prescribed medications unless their doctor says otherwise.

“Yoga may be unsuitable for heart failure patients with severe symptoms, who were excluded from our study,” Singh said.

Researchers presented the findings Sunday at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Lisbon, Portugal.

Findings presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

Harvard Medical School has more on how yoga can improve heart health.

SOURCE: European Society of Cardiology, news release, May 12, 2024

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