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Feb 05, 2013

Patients with AFib Can Benefit Greatly From Yoga

According to a recent study, yoga may work especially well at improving heart rhythm and quality of life for those with atrial fibrillation.

Exercise is good for health, in more ways than one. It promotes weight loss, improves heart health, boosts energy levels and more. And according to a recent study, yoga may work especially well at improving heart rhythm and quality of life for those with atrial fibrillation (AFib).

Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of abnormal heart rhythm. If uncontrolled, AFib greatly increases risk for stroke and heart failure. Although there are ways to help treat AFib, like through medication and medical procedures, it's important that new ways to help treat it are identified. After all, the more we can do to help treat AFib, the better outcomes and quality of life will be. Researchers were happy to find that those who have AFib can achieve significant health benefits by engaging in a very simple exercise—yoga.

In this study, which was recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers monitored the health of nearly 50 patients with AFib for a total of six months, three months of which they practiced yoga twice a week for one hour. Patients were led by certified yoga instructors, and did physical exercises, breathing techniques and meditation. Researchers found that compared to the three months in which patients did not practice yoga, practicing yoga improved heart rhythm, lowered blood pressure and heart rate, and improved mental health by decreasing depression and anxiety in study participants.

Although additional research is needed to fully understand the possible benefits of exercise for patients with AFib, it's possible that physical activity could prove just as important as other treatments, and that yoga, in particular, could have the greatest health benefits.

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