Emory Report
November 12, 2007
Volume 60, Number 11

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November 12, 2007
Study: Yoga therapy benefits heart patients

By jennifer johnson

Yoga therapy appears to be safe for chronic heart failure patients and may improve quality of life, exercise tolerance and inflammation associated with adverse cardiovascular events, according to Bobby Khan, assistant professor in Emory School of Medicine.

Khan presented his findings Nov. 5 at the American Heart Association's 2007 Scientific Sessions conference in Orlando, Fla.

Khan and his colleagues measured the effects of an eight-week yoga intervention to determine if it would improve symptoms of heart failure as reflected by exercise tolerance, quality of life and markers of inflammation associated with heart failure.

The incidence and prevalence of congestive heart failure continues to grow as our population gets older. The health problems and death from heart failure continues to be high in spite of excellent medical and device therapy, said Khan.

It is well known that increasing physical activity improves exercise tolerance in patients with heart failure. Yoga is a form of exercise that is well tolerated and easy to follow.

In Khan’s study of heart failure patients with appropriate medical therapy, he observed that an eight-week regimen of yoga improves exercise capacity and overall quality of life. Furthermore, it may be that yoga has an impact on the mechanisms of action involved in the progression of heart failure, he said.

Nineteen heart failure patients either received treatment with yoga or standard medical therapy. Measurements included graded exercise test to VO2 peak, blood pressure, flexibility, waist/hip ratio, the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire and blood-soluble levels of interleukin-6, C-reactive protein and extra-cellular superoxide dismutase.

"Our results were very positive," Khan said. "All of the patients completed the yoga therapy with no complications."