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Cardiovascular benefits of yoga for AF

Yoga could have antiarrhythmic benefits in several different populations, according to ongoing research announced recently at the Boston Atrial Fibrillation Symposium.1

Researchers led by Dr Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy (University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City) announced plans to study the effects of yoga on heart-rate variability and cardiac autonomic parameters.  This follows an earlier study of yoga in 49 patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF),2 which found that AF episodes were significantly reduced, with 22% having no new AF episodes while practicing Iyengar yoga.

The researchers conducted a correlation analysis to determine if the benefits to resting heart rate and systolic/diastolic blood pressure demonstrated were produced by stress reduction, or independently linked to yoga. The analysis found a nonsignificant trend toward a change in anxiety levels influencing the AF episodes, but a larger study might show a statistically significant relationship, the authors said.

Despite the benefits found, the researchers have encountered resistance to the programme. Only about 50% of patients originally enrolled adhered to the prescribed routine after study completion.

Lakkireddy’s group suggests that the benefits of yoga may be due to improved plasticity and stability of the autonomic nervous system, or the other lifestyle changes which often accompany adherence to the practice, such as weight loss and lower alcohol intake.


1 Lakkireddy D. Role of yoga and stress reduction techniques in the management of AF. Boston Atrial Fibrillation Symposium 2012; January 12, 2012; Boston, MA

2 Sue Hughes.  Yoga found to reduce AF episodes. 2011.  Available from:

Published on: February 7, 2012

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  • ArrhythmiaAlliance
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  • Anticoagulation Europe
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