By David Kiefer, MD
Source: Lakkireddy D, et al. Effect of yoga on arrhythmia burden, anxiety, depression, and quality of life in paroxysmal atrial fibrillation: The YOGA My Heart Study. J Am Coll Cardiol 2013;61:1177-1182.
This study evaluated the effect of yoga on 52 people with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF). The research subjects served as their own control by comparing a 3-month observation period with a subsequent 3-month intervention period during which the people participated in 60 minutes of structured Iyengar yoga at least twice weekly. The primary outcome variables were any change in symptomatic AF, asymptomatic AF, or symptomatic non-AF episodes (using self report and cardiac non-looping event recorders). Also measured were quality of life (Short Form 36), anxiety (Zung self-assessment anxiety score), and depression (Zung self-assessment depression score). Three patients withdrew from the study, and it is unclear whether they were included in an intention-to-treat analysis. Of note, the results of the Short Form 36 varied depending on the domain; for example, yoga benefited physical functioning, general health, vitality, social functioning, limitations stemming from emotional problems, and overall mental health, but not limitations due to physical health nor bodily pain. Due to these results, the researchers tout the utility of yoga for paroxysmal AF, and mention the prior research into the multisystem benefits of yoga that could explain its effects here.