Irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation) is usually treated with powerful drugs or a pacemaker - but sufferers can control the problem by taking up yoga, a new study has discovered.
The exercise can halve the number of distressing episodes and lower blood pressure readings, making it as effective as drugs such as anticoagulant and anti-arrythmia medications.
Yoga sessions that combine posture with breathing are the most effective and ideally should be practiced every day, say researchers from HG SMS Hospital in Jaipur, India.
They worked with 538 people with the heart problem, half of whom practiced yoga for 30 minutes every other day for four months, and then switched with the inactive group. They were also encouraged to practice yoga every day at home.
During the weeks when the yoga was being practiced, the group averaged around eight heart rhythm episodes while the non-yoga group had an average of 15 episodes. Blood pressure fell in the yoga group, and the participants also reported having higher energy levels, better moods and less anxiety and depression.
Typical symptoms of atrial fibrillation include irregular pules, shortness of breath, tiredness, chest pains and dizziness. It affects around 25 percent of middles aged people, and it's responsible for up to 30 percent of strokes and almost doubles the risk of premature death.
Reference: European Society of Cardiology, August 24, 2020