Yoga Helps Reduce Irregular Heartbeat and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

Updated: 
December 06, 2017

According to a new study recently presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 60th Annual Scientific Session, the practice of yoga has been found to significantly reduce the number of episodes of irregular heartbeat and improve the symptoms of anxiety and depression often associated with atrial fibrillation.

In addition to significantly improving the quality of life and reducing self-reported depression and anxiety scores, including yoga as a regular exercise routine, cut patient’s episodes of atrial fibrillation in half.

The study, which included 49 patients and lasted six months, was the first study to examine the effects of yoga specifically on patients with atrial fibrillation. The first three months, participants were permitted to engage in a familiar type of physical activity. This was followed by another three month period where they were instructed in yoga three times a week for forty-five minutes by a certified professional. They were also given a practice session DVD which they were encouraged to do at home on their own.

"The practice of yoga is known to improve many risk factors for heart disease including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, and stress and inflammation in the body," said Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, M.D., associate professor of medicine and director of the Center for Excellence in Atrial Fibrillation, Cardiovascular Research Institute, Mid America Cardiology, University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City, Kansas and lead investigator of the study. "There are currently no proven complementary therapies that are known to help decrease the symptoms of atrial fibrillation in a noninvasive fashion with minimal side effects and reasonable safety and efficacy."

"These findings are important because many of the current conventional treatment strategies for atrial fibrillation include invasive procedures or medications with undesirable side effects. Success with these therapies varies widely, and they are often only modestly effective in controlling heart rhythm," Lakkireddy said. "It appears yoga has a significant impact on helping to regulate patients' heartbeat and improves their overall quality of life. Any intervention that helps in reducing or controlling the arrhythmia burden in atrial fibrillation can have a huge impact on public health."