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Benefits of Yoga for African American Heart Failure Patients

PULLEN, PAULA R.1; THOMPSON, WALTER R.1; BENARDOT, DAN1; BRANDON, L. JEROME1; MEHTA, PUJA K.2; RIFAI, LUAY2; VADNAIS, DAVID S.2; PARROTT, JANICE M.2; KHAN, BOBBY V.2

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: April 2010 - Volume 42 - Issue 4 - pp 651-657
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181bf24c4
Clinical Sciences

Background: The number of African American (AA) patients living with heart failure (HF) has been increasing, especially among the economically disadvantaged. Yoga therapy has been found to improve physical and psychological parameters among healthy individuals, but its effect in patients with HF remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of yoga therapy on cardiovascular endurance (V˙O2peak), flexibility, quality of life (QoL), and inflammatory markers on medically stable HF patients.

Methods: Forty patients (38 AA, 1 Asian, and 1 Caucasian) with systolic or diastolic HF were randomized to the yoga group (YG, n = 21) or the control group (CG, n = 19). All patients were asked to follow a home walk program. Premeasurement and postmeasurement included a treadmill stress test to peak exertion, flexibility, interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), and extracellular superoxide dismutase (EC-SOD). QoL was assessed by the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire (MLwHFQ).

Results: The statistical analyses (assessed by ANOVA and t-tests) were significant for favorable changes in the YG, compared with those in the CG, for flexibility (P = 0.012), treadmill time (P = 0.002), V˙O2peak (P = 0.003), and the biomarkers (IL-6, P = 0.004; CRP, P = 0.016; and EC-SOD, P = 0.012). Within the YG, pretest to posttest scores for the total (P = 0.02) and physical subscales (P < 0.001) of the MLwHFQ were improved.

Conclusions: Yoga therapy offered additional benefits to the standard medical care of predominantly AA HF patients by improving cardiovascular endurance, QoL, inflammatory markers, and flexibility.

1Department of Kinesiology and Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA; and 2Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Address for correspondence: Paula R. Pullen, Ph.D., Department of Physiology, Morehouse School of Medicine, 720 Westview Drive SW, Atlanta, GA 30310-1495; E-mail: ppullen@msm.edu.

Submitted for publication May 2009.

Accepted for publication August 2009.

©2010The American College of Sports Medicine