New Study Indicates that Yoga Therapy Offers Help for Heart Failure

By: 
Malinda Gosvig

According to a recent study published in the April issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise yoga therapy may help improve the health of heart failure patients, as indicated by several measures, including inflammatory markers, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and overall quality of life.

Conducted by Paula R. Pullen, Ph.D., of Georgia State University in Atlanta, and colleagues, the study looked at 40 different patients (38 African American, 1 Asian, and 1 Caucasian) with systolic or diastolic heart failure. The patients were randomly divided into two groups: one that received 16 regular session of yoga therapy for heart disease patients over the course of eight to ten weeks and a control group that was instructed to follow a home walk program.

At the start of the study, all patients were measured for endurance, flexibility, inflammatory markers (including interleukin-6, C-reactive protein, and extracellular superoxide dismutase), and quality of life according to the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire.

At the end of the study, researchers again measured both groups and discovered significant improvements in the yoga therapy group —not just in one or a few areas, but across the board. The results reveal that yoga therapy can offer benefits to African Americans suffering from heart failure by improving flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, inflammatory markers, and overall quality of life.

For anyone suffering from heart failure or another kind of heart disease, the evidence that yoga offers natural therapy should be welcome news. So often in today’s society, conventional heart failure or heart disease “cures” isolate one specific aspect of our health, ignoring or even exacerbating other concerns. Yoga therapy, however, addresses underlying heart failure and heart disease causes and can bring improvement to all aspects of our health. Yoga therapy can also work alongside conventional treatments to help cure heart disease and heart failure and minimize side effects of medication.

Heart failure is tragically common: nearly 5 million Americans suffer from the serious cardiovascular disorder, and that number is rising. The outlook for patients is bleak: according to the Heart Failure Society of America, less than 50% of patients are living five years after their initial diagnosis, and after ten years, that number is halved again. Furthermore, the disease hits hard among African Americans, especially those who are at an economic disadvantage.

With heart failure rates accelerating alongside other cardiovascular diseases in our society, the need for a medically effective and cost-effective solution is more pressing than ever. Fortunately, in addition to its broad range of heart-related health benefits, yoga offers an inexpensive solution for those who may not be able to afford regular treatments for their condition. Once learned, yoga poses can be practiced at home. Patients who can’t attend a class can also practice with a yoga DVD.

Check out Dr. Baxter Bell's course on YogaUOnline:  Yoga for Heart Health - New Insights for Healthy Aging