Background: Despite recent advances in pharmacologic and device therapy, morbidity and mortality from heart failure (HF) remain high. Yoga combines physical and breathing exercises that may benefit patients with HF. We hypothesized that an 8-week regimen of yoga in addition to standard medical therapy would improve exercise capacity, inflammatory markers, and quality of life (QoL) in patients with HF.
Methods and results: New York Heart Association Class I-III HF patients were randomized to yoga treatment (YT) or standard medical therapy (MT). Measurements included a graded exercise test (GXT) to V O(2Peak) and the following serum biomarkers: interleukin-6 (IL-6), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), and extracellular superoxide dismutase (EC-SOD). The Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire (MLHFQ) was administered to assess changes in QoL. A total of 19 patients were enrolled after the initial screening. Of the 19 patients, 9 were randomized to YT and 10 to MT. Patients had a mean EF of 25%. GXT time and V O(2Peak) were significantly improved in the YT versus MT groups (+18% in the YT and -7.5% in MT; P = .03 vs. control and +17 in YT and -7.1 in MT; P = .02, respectively). There were statistically significant reductions in serum levels of IL-6 and hsCRP and an increase in EC-SOD in the YT group (all P < .005 vs. MT). MLHFQ scores improved by 25.7% in the YT group and by 2.9% in the MT group.
Conclusions: Yoga improved exercise tolerance and positively affected levels of inflammatory markers in patients with HF, and there was also a trend toward improvements in QoL.