Usually, your heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat. In atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly (quiver) instead of beating effectively to move blood into the ventricles. It can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications.
Atrial fibrillation symptoms include palpitations, racing or irregular pulse, shortness of breath, tiredness, chest pain, and dizziness. These symptoms can be distressing- causing many patients to feel anxious and limiting their ability to live a healthy life.
A new study explored whether yoga could ease symptoms in patients with atrial fibrillation. The investigation enlisted 538 patients from 2012 to 2017. Patients served as their controls. For 12 weeks, they did no yoga; then, for about four months, patients went to 30-minute yoga sessions every other day, including postures and breathing. During the yoga period, patients were also urged to practice the movements and breathing at home regularly.
During both study periods, symptoms and episodes of atrial fibrillation were recorded in a diary. Some patients additionally wore a heart monitor to check atrial fibrillation episodes. Patients finished an anxiety and depression survey and a questionnaire evaluating their capacity to do daily exercises and socialize, energy levels, and mood. Heart rate and blood pressure were also estimated. The specialists then analyzed results between the yoga and non-yoga periods.
During the 16-week yoga period, patients experienced significant improvements in all areas compared to the 12-week non-yoga period. For example, during the non-yoga period, patients experienced an average of 15 symptomatic episodes of atrial fibrillation compared to eight episodes during the yoga period. The average blood pressure was 11/6 mmHg lower after yoga training.
Study author Dr. Naresh Sen of HG SMS Hospital, Jaipur, India, said, “Our study suggests that yoga has wide-ranging physical and mental health benefits for atrial fibrillation and could be added on top of usual therapies.”
The research is presented today at ESC Congress 2020.