Effect of Yoga on Arrhythmia Burden, Anxiety, Depression, and Quality of Life in Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation: The YOGA My Heart Study

Study Questions:

Among patients with symptomatic paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF), what is the impact of a structured 3-month yoga program on the burden of AF and standardized measures of quality of life (QoL), depression, and anxiety?

Methods:

This was a single-center, prospective, self-controlled, pre-post cohort study in which patients with symptomatic paroxysmal AF participated in an initial 3-month noninterventional (control) observation period, followed by twice-weekly 60-minute yoga training over 3 months (intervention). The primary outcomes included changes in symptomatic AF, symptomatic non-AF, and asymptomatic AF episodes. Secondary outcomes included change in Short Form-36 (SF-36) QoL score, Zung self-assessment anxiety score (SAS), and Zung self-assessment depression score (SDS).

Results:

Forty-nine patients completed the study. Yoga training reduced symptomatic AF episodes (3.8 ± 3 vs. 2.1 ± 2.6; p < 0.001) and asymptomatic AF episodes (0.12 ± 0.44 vs. 0.04 ± 0.20; p < 0.001). At the end of the yoga intervention phase, SDS and SAS scores improved significantly (p < 0.001 for both). Similarly, SF-36 scores improved after yoga therapy on the following domains: physical functioning (p = 0.017), general health (p < 0.001), vitality (p < 0.001), social functioning (p = 0.019), and mental health (p < 0.01). There was a significant decrease in heart rate, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure before and after yoga (p < 0.001).

Conclusions:

In this small study, yoga improved symptoms and standardized measures of mental health while modestly reducing the burden of AF among patients participating in a structured yoga training program.

Perspective:

This small study suggests the notion that yoga may be of modest benefit in reducing the burden of AF in some patients with symptomatic AF, while improving measures of QoL and mental health. Larger randomized controlled studies will be necessary to further establish the gravity of these findings.

Clinical Topics: Arrhythmias and Clinical EP, Atrial Fibrillation/Supraventricular Arrhythmias

Keywords: Depression, Depressive Disorder, Quality of Life, Atrial Fibrillation, Blood Pressure, Yoga, Heart Rate, Cost of Illness, Mental Health, Meditation


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