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Yoga May Help With Common Heart Rhythm Disorder
Date:1/30/2013

n be a fantastic adjunct."

The study involved 49 patients with paroxysmal AF -- a form where symptoms arise suddenly and then end on their own, usually within 24 hours.

For the first three months, patients stuck with their usual activities. Then for the next three months, they had hour-long yoga sessions with a certified teacher, at least twice a week; some people opted to come every day.

A limitation of the study is that there was no "control" group of patients who did not take yoga classes, according to cardiologist Dr. Nieca Goldberg.

So, that makes it less certain that it's the yoga that brought the benefit.

"More research is needed, but these findings are very promising," said Goldberg, medical director of the Center for Women's Health at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

But she also stressed that it's important for people to know that there are different styles of yoga, and some may be inappropriate or even dangerous for people with a heart condition.

"This study used a mild form of yoga," Goldberg said. "The findings do not speak to all styles of yoga."

Specifically, study patients took classes in the Iyengar style, which moves at a slow pace and emphasizes proper alignment in the poses, breathing and relaxation.

Some other styles of yoga are more strenuous, like the style known as "vinyasa." There are also "hot yoga" classes, where the room temperature is kept as high as 105 degrees.

"We would never recommend hot yoga for a heart patient," Goldberg stressed.

All of that said, Goldberg already suggests gentler yoga classes to some of her heart patients. Both she and Lakkireddy said that patients who are interested in yoga should get the go-ahead from their doctor first.

Of course, Goldberg noted, your doctor may not be able to recommend a specific yoga program. In that case, she suggested calling your local Y or a senior center and asking about classes geared for older adults
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