Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

Yoga for Heart Failure: A Review and Future Research

Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

Yoga for Heart Failure: A Review and Future Research

Article excerpt

Byline: Paula. Pullen, William. Seffens, Walter. Thompson

Background: Complementary and alternative medicine is a rapidly growing area of biomedical inquiry. Yoga has emerged in the forefront of holistic medical care due to its long history of linking physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Research in yoga therapy (YT) has associated improved cardiovascular and quality of life (QoL) outcomes for the special needs of heart failure (HF) patients. Aim: The aim of this study is to review yoga intervention studies on HF patients, discuss proposed mechanisms, and examine yoga's effect on physiological systems that have potential benefits for HF patients. Second, to recommend future research directions to find the most effective delivery methods of yoga to medically stable HF patients. Methods: The authors conducted a systematic review of the medical literature for RCTs involving HF patients as participants in yoga interventions and for studies utilizing mechanistic theories of stretch and new technologies. We examined physical intensity, mechanistic theories, and the use of the latest technologies. Conclusions: Based on the review, there is a need to further explore yoga mechanisms and research options for the delivery of YT. Software apps as exergames developed for use at home and community activity centers may minimize health disparities and increase QoL for HF patients.


Hatha yoga is a generic term for the practice of the physical yoga postures, (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation (dhyana) intended to improve health by balancing strength, breath, and flexibility.[1] The physical postures of yoga have evolved into many different styles and levels of exertion ranging from a focus on body alignment,[2] to rigorous forms that combine several postures in a dynamic series.[3] Yoga may provide overall and specific benefits that lower cardiac risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.[4],[5] Currently, hundreds of medical centers in the United States offer yoga classes to their community members and patients with heart disease.[6] Medical reasons for yoga's widespread appeal may include its adaptability to a wide range of physical fitness levels, lower physiological stress reactivity,[7] and its association with weight loss.[8],[9]

The treatment and survival of heart disease patients have been improving due to advancements in the medical specialty of cardiology, according to a recent report from the American Heart Association.[10] This positive outcome has led to significant increases in the number of patients who survive and live with heart failure (HF). Regarding HF and exercise, patients are encouraged to engage in exercise within the limits of their disease, which is a recent change in management. The large and increasing incidence of HF [11] leads to the investigation of yoga as an adjunct therapy.[12] Current therapies fail to reverse exercise intolerance, fatigue, and other well-known symptoms of HF, thus encouraging the investigation of a systems biology or integrative medicine approach involving either mind and body methodologies or alternative therapies for HF management.[13] In addition, yoga as a treatment modality for the HF patient may lead to a decrease in symptoms and improved quality of life (QoL) because of gains in muscle strength, improved endurance, flexibility, and decreased anxiety.

The effects of yoga for HF patients are just beginning to emerge in randomized clinical trials (RCTs). Initial findings include a reduction of inflammatory markers, blood pressure, pain, and a decrease in implantable cardioverter defibrillator firings. Moving forward, linking ancient therapeutic practices with medical device platforms using smart and connected technologies has the potential to advance yoga therapies toward hard-to-reach populations, aimed at reducing health disparities and improving QoL in the treatment of HF patients. …

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