Effects of a 6-month Tai Chi Qigong program on arterial hemodynamics and functional aerobic capacity in survivors of nasopharyngeal cancer

J Cancer Surviv. 2014 Dec;8(4):618-26. doi: 10.1007/s11764-014-0372-4. Epub 2014 Jun 8.

Abstract

Purpose: Survivors of nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) often sustain cardiovascular complications after conventional cancer treatments. Tai Chi (TC) Qigong training may be a viable way to improve peripheral circulatory status and aerobic capacity in this population. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of a 6-month TC Qigong training program on blood flow velocities and resistance, palmar skin temperature, and functional aerobic capacity in survivors of NPC.

Methods: Twenty-five and 27 survivors of NPC volunteered to join the intervention group (mean age, 55.4 ± 7.5 years) and control group (mean age, 58.7 ± 9.5 years), respectively. The intervention group underwent a TC Qigong training program-the modified 18 Forms TC Internal Qigong-for 6 months, while the control group received no training. Peripheral arterial blood flow velocities and resistance, palmar skin temperature, and functional aerobic capacity were measured by a Doppler ultrasound machine, an infrared thermometer, and six-minute walk test, respectively. All outcomes were assessed at baseline, mid-intervention (3-month), post-intervention (6-month), and follow-up (12-month) periods.

Results: The TC Qigong group had higher diastolic blood flow velocity (p = 0.010), lower arterial blood flow resistance (p = 0.009), and higher palmar skin temperature (p = 0.004) than the control group after TC Qigong training. However, only the diastolic blood flow velocity was higher in the TC Qigong group than in the control group during the no-training follow-up period (p = 0.032). Additionally, an improvement in functional aerobic capacity was found in the intervention group after TC Qigong training (p < 0.008) but not in the control group over time (p > 0.008).

Conclusions: TC Qigong training may improve peripheral circulatory status and functional aerobic capacity among people treated for NPC. However, this is only a pilot study and future definitive trials are needed to confirm the results.

Implications for cancer survivors: TC Qigong may have enormous potential as a rehabilitation intervention for survivors of NPC to improve arterial hemodynamics and functional aerobic capacity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Quality of Life
  • Survivors
  • Tai Ji
  • Time Factors