Objective: To review the physiological and psychosocial effects of a 12-week T'ai Chi program (TC) in patients with heart failure (HF) as previously reported in a clinical trial.
Methods: We randomized 30 patients with chronic HF (left ventricular ejection fraction < or =40%) to receive TC plus usual care (n = 15), or usual care alone (wait-list control, n = 15). Outcome measures included quality of life, exercise capacity, B-type natriuretic peptide, catecholamine levels, heart rate variability, and sleep stability.
Results: The mean age (+/-SD) of patients was 64 +/- 13 years, mean baseline ejection fraction (+/-SD) was 23 +/- 7%, and median New York Heart Association Class was 2 (range 1-4). At 12 weeks, patients who participated in TC showed improved quality of life (mean change -17 +/- 11 vs. 8 +/- 15, Minnesota Living with HF Questionnaire, p = 0.001), increased exercise capacity (mean change 85 +/- 46 vs. -51 +/-58 m, 6-min walk, p = 0.001), and decreased B-type natriuretic peptide (mean change -48 +/- 104 vs. 90 +/- 333 pg/ml, p = 0.03) compared to the control group. Those who participated in TC also showed improvement in sleep stability (increase in high-frequency coupling +0.05 +/- 0.10 vs. -0.06 +/- 0.09 proportion of estimated total sleep time, p = 0.04; reduction in low-frequency coupling -0.09 +/- 0.09 vs. +0.13 +/- 0.13 proportion of estimated total sleep time, p < 0.01), compared to the control group.
Conclusion: TC may enhance quality of life, exercise capacity, and sleep stability in patients with chronic HF.