Tai Chi and Qigong Practices for Chronic Heart Failure: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2020 Dec 14:2020:2034625. doi: 10.1155/2020/2034625. eCollection 2020.


Background: Several randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have assessed the role of Tai Chi and Qigong Practices (TQPs) in managing chronic heart failure (CHF). They have included broad variations in comparators, sample sizes, and results. This study evaluates existing RCTs for evidence of TQPs rehabilitation effects for CHF.

Methods: Both English and Chinese databases were searched from their inception to October 23, 2019. RCTs were included if they compared the addition of TQPs into routine managements (RMs) to RMs alone or compared TQPs to general exercise, with RMs as a consistent cointervention in both groups. Data were screened and extracted independently using predesigned forms. RCT quality was assessed with the Cochrane tool. The primary outcomes were peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak), 6-minute walking distance (6MWD), and Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire (MLHFQ). Mean differences (MDs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated, and heterogeneity was assessed with an I 2 statistic.

Results: A total of 33 RCTs with 2,465 patients were included in the systematic review. Compared to the RMs alone, TQPs plus RMs improved VO2peak (MD: 1.24 mL/kg/min, 95% CI, 0.91 to 1.57; I 2 = 0%), 6MWD (MD: 59.63 meters, 95% CI, 43.35 to 75.90 I 2 = 88%), and MLHFQ (MD: -8.63 scores; 95% CI, -10.60 to -6.67; I 2 = 94%). Compared to general exercise, superior improvements were found in the TQP group; they were significant in MLHFQ (MD: -9.18 scores; 95% CI, -17.95 to -0.41; I 2 = 86%), but not in VO2peak or 6MWD. Evidence was also found of TQPs' safety and high adherence.

Conclusions: Considering that there are low costs, multiple physical benefits, and no equipment required, TQPs are a promising rehabilitation therapy, as an adjunct to routine pharmacotherapies or as an alternative to conventional exercises, especially in home-based settings.