Yoga can enhance cardiovascular function in heart failure patients: Study
To evaluate the effects of yoga therapy on heart failure patients, echocardiographic parametres were assessed during multiple follow-up periods
Participants in the yoga group were taught selected yoga therapy like pranayama, meditation and relaxation technique – Representative Image: iStock
In a recent study, researchers investigated the potential long-term benefits of incorporating yoga therapy as a supplementary treatment for managing heart failure and found that yoga therapy has the potential to enhance the physical well-being and left ventricular function of individuals with heart failure.
Heart failure, a form of cardiovascular disease, occurs when the heart muscle’s functionality is compromised, leading to difficulties in efficiently pumping blood, fluid retention, and breathlessness.
The severity of a patient’s symptoms is often assessed using the New York Heart Association (NYHA) Functional classification system, which categorises patients into one of four groups based on their physical activity limitations.
Class I denotes the mildest symptoms, while Class IV indicates the most severe. Additionally, clinicians evaluate the heart’s pumping efficiency by measuring ejection fraction.
The research involved a cohort of 75 patients diagnosed with heart failure, who had received coronary intervention, revascularisation, or device therapy within the past six months to one year at a specialised healthcare facility in South India.
All participants in the study were categorised as NYHA Class III or lower and had been receiving optimised medical treatment for a duration of at least six months to one year.
To be eligible for the trial, patients had to fall within the age range of 30 to 70 years and maintain a left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) of 45 per cent or above.
The study involved two groups: the interventional group comprised 35 participants (31 males and 4 females), and the non-interventional group consisted of 40 individuals (30 males and 10 females).
In the interventional group, participants received both yoga therapy and standard guideline-directed medical care, while those in the non-interventional group solely received standard guideline-directed medical therapy.
To evaluate the effects of yoga therapy on heart failure patients, echocardiographic parametres were assessed during multiple follow-up periods.
The interventional group underwent echocardiographic comparisons alongside the non-interventional group to determine the impact of yoga therapy on heart failure patients.
“Yoga is a combination of mind-body techniques, which is a set of physical exercises [asana] with breathing techniques [pranayama], relaxation and meditation that can be effectively used to stimulate physical and mental well-being,” said Ajit Singh, PhD, research scientist for the Indian Council for Medical Research at Kasturba Medical College & Hospital, Manipal Academy of Heart Education in Manipal, India, and the study’s lead author.
“Our patients observed improvement in systolic blood pressure and heart rate compared to patients who were on medication without yoga.”
Participants in the yoga group were taken to the department of yoga at the hospital and an experienced yoga therapist taught selected yoga therapy like pranayama, meditation and relaxation techniques.
Each session lasted around 60 minutes and participants were supervised for one week at the training centre before being asked to continue self-administered yoga at home.
Those in the yoga group were advised to perform yoga at least five days a week for 12 months.
At the training centre, all the participants were taught together to perform the same steps, but individual support was available.
Researchers measured quality of life improvements using the World Health Organisation Quality of Life questionnaire, which uses 26 questions to evaluate quality of life in four aspects: physical, psychological, social and environmental health.
The participants completed the questionnaire at enrollment, as well as at 24 weeks and 48 weeks of follow-up.
According to the researchers, the study showed participants in the yoga group had improvement in endurance, strength, balance, symptom stability and quality of life.
They also observed that while patients improved physically and psychologically, there was no improvement in social and environmental health.
Echocardiographic parametres did not show any significant differences between the two groups at baseline.
At both the six- and 12-month follow-up improved biventricular systolic function was seen in the interventional (yoga) group compared to the non-interventional group.
The interventional group also showed substantial improvement in functional outcomes as assessed by the NHYA classification.
“This study proves that the addition of yoga therapy to standard medical management of heart failure leads to an improvement in left ventricular systolic function and quality of life in heart failure patients,” Singh said.
“Hence, yoga therapy may improve physical well-being and left ventricular function among heart failure patients on guideline-directed optimal medical therapy.”
(With inputs from ANI)