Health & Wellness

Yoga May Ease Symptoms for Heart Patients

Researchers say yoga can reduce the effects of atrial fibrillation

By Wendy Haaf


Practising yoga seems to reduce the frequency and severity of episodes of atrial fibrillation (AFib), as well as to lessen symptoms such as racing pulse, shortness of breath, chest pain, and dizziness, researchers in India report.

The most common heart rhythm disorder, AFib affects approximately 200,000 Canadians. While one’s risk for AFib increases with age, other risk factors include diabetes and high blood pressure; the condition can lead to stroke and heart failure.

Scientists tracked 538 volunteers with the heart rhythm abnormality over 28 weeks. After 12 weeks with no yoga, the subjects attended 30-minute yoga sessions every other day for 16 weeks. They were also encouraged to practise at home on alternate days. During the yoga phase, the average number of AFib episodes fell by nearly half (eight versus 15). The study results were presented to the 2020 European Society of Cardiology Congress.

“The symptoms of atrial fibrillation can be distressing,” study author Dr. Naresh Sen said. “They come and go, causing many patients to feel anxious and limiting their ability to live a normal life. Our study suggests that yoga has wide-ranging physical and mental health benefits for patients with atrial fibrillation and could be added on top of usual therapies.”

Photo: iStock/Inside Creative House.