Yoga might bring people with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation a better life, reducing blood pressure and heart rate.
This result is retrieved from a study which compares atrial fibrillation patients who practiced yoga with patients who did not. The study report was published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a condition when the heart pumps blood at an abnormal and fast rate, which disrupts the blood flow in the heart’s chambers of and raises the risk of blood clots. Thus, a stroke may occur.
Normally, AF goes along with dizziness, chest pain and several sudden breath shortness called dyspnoea. These unpleasant symptoms make patients feel anxious and full of stress for they worry about when it will finish, or when will be the next time it happens. In paroxysmal AF, the episodes often last within 2 days and typically stop, though the maximum time would reach 7 days.
According to Maria Wahlström, a nurse who is studying for a PhD at the Sophiahemmet University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, plenty of patients with AF can’t live their expected lives. As they are afraid the episodes will suddenly occur, they rarely can join meals with family, friends, or even travel to anywhere else.
That heart rhythm disorder is a common disease, which poses impacts on nearly 2% of the population in developed countries. So far there has been no cure for that disease. There are now some kind of treatment which uses medication, cardioversion, and catheter ablation to manage symptoms and prevent stroke.
Wahlström and her colleagues, therefore, worked to find out the effects of yoga – a complementary therapy to help patients cope with their condition. They randomly assigned 80 patients with AF to take part in their yoga sessions and to a group without yoga exercises.
The yoga group had to take a 1-hour yoga session each week, lasting for 12 weeks, where they practiced deep breathing, light movements and meditation. In the end, they measured the life quality, heart rate and also blood pressure of all the patients. After 12 weeks, the yoga group had improvements in both mental health and the quality of life whereas the group that did no yoga saw no changes.
Hence, Wahlström insists that yoga has helped AF patients balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in less variation in heart rate. These yoga exercises also positively effect the blood pressure.
The patients attending the research reported that it was comfortable to let go of their thoughts for a while. Yoga, thus, is believed to help patients take control of their selves and feel less helpless.