Yoga practice enhances heart health and functional capacity in heart failure patients

Yoga focused on breathing, meditation and relaxation is linked to symptom improvement in heart failure patients, according to research presented today at Heart Failure 2024, a scientific conference of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Patients who practiced yoga along with taking medications felt better, were able to do more, and had stronger hearts than those who only took medications for heart failure. The findings suggest that yoga may be a beneficial complementary therapy in patients with heart failure.”

Dr. Ajit Singh, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Manipal Academy of Higher Education, India, is the study author

Heart failure affects a large number of people – more than 64 million globally – and can have a devastating impact on quality of life, with patients feeling tired and having difficulty breathing, and being unable to participate in their normal activities. Are incapable of. While previous studies have shown short-term benefits of yoga in patients with heart failure, this study provides new information about the long-term effects.

The study enrolled heart failure patients aged 30 to 70 years from the cardiology outpatient department of Kasturba Hospital in Manipal, India. All participants had had a cardiac procedure within the past six months to a year and were taking guideline-recommended heart failure medications. Patients with severe symptoms were excluded.

85 patients were included in the study. The mean age was 49 years and 70 (82%) were male. In a non-random manner, 40 patients were allocated to the yoga group and 45 patients to the control group. All participants continued to take guideline-recommended heart failure medications throughout the study.

Experienced faculty at the yoga department of the hospital demonstrated pranayama (yogic breathing), meditation and relaxation techniques to the patients in the yoga group. The participants were monitored for a week and then advised to continue self-administered yoga at home for 50 minutes once a week. Patients spoke with a trainer after each home session to check progress.

At baseline, six months and one year, researchers assessed heart structure and function in the yoga and control groups using echocardiography. Measurements included evaluation of the heart's ability to pump blood (left ventricular ejection fraction), and right ventricular function. The researchers also examined blood pressure, heart rate, body weight and body mass index. Symptom burden and ability to perform normal activities such as walking and climbing stairs were assessed using the New York Heart Association classification system.

Compared to the control group, the yoga group showed significantly greater improvements in all measurements at six months and one year relative to baseline.

Dr Singh said: “Patients who did yoga had healthier hearts and were more able to perform normal activities like walking and climbing stairs, compared to those who only took medicines. Patients with heart failure should consult their doctors before starting yoga. One should talk to and only then do yoga.” Get training from an experienced instructor. Prescribed medications should be continued as before. “Yoga may be inappropriate for heart failure patients with severe symptoms, who were excluded from our study.”


European Society of Cardiology

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