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Tai chi improves quality of life in heart failure.

LAS VEGAS -- Tai chi may be an ideal exercise for heart failure patients, according to a study reported at the annual meeting of the Heart Failure Society of America.

Twice-weekly participation in tai chi classes for 12 weeks led to increased 6-minute walk test distances and improved B-type natriuretic peptide levels in patients with heart failure, compared with control patients, said Dr. Gloria Yeh of the division of general medicine and primary care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston.

Tai chi also improved quality of life, as measured by the Minnesota Living With Heart Failure questionnaire in the pilot study.

Tai chi is appealing for patients with congestive heart failure because it is low impact, not particularly strenuous, and easy for out-of-shape persons to perform. Moreover, the meditative aspects of breathing control and relaxation could have their own independent benefits.

Some literature suggests that meditative, mind-body techniques can modulate the neurohormonal axis and decrease sympathetic tone.

The study enrolled 30 patients with left ventricular ejection fractions of less than 40%. All were being seen in a heart failure clinic, and 90% were taking an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, 90% were on a [beta]-blocker, and 93% were on a diuretic.

The 15 patients randomized to the tai chi group attended 1-hour classes two times a week.

At the class they were given a videotape of the technique and were advised to practice tai chi at home at least three times a week. The other 15 patients were assigned to a control group and received no intervention.

After 12 weeks, the mean distance walked during the 6-minute walk test increased by 277 feet for the patients practicing tai chi, from a mean of 1,074 feet at baseline. It decreased by 206 feet, from a mean baseline of 1,116 feet, for the control group.

B-type natriuretic peptide level fell from a mean of 329 pg/mL to 281 pg/mL in the tai chi group, and rose from a mean of 285 pg/mL to 306 pg/mL in the control group.

The study participants in the tai chi group reported improvements in their quality of life, while the control group said it had declined slightly. There was no significant difference in peak oxygen uptake on a bicycle stress test for the two groups, Dr. Yeh said.

She also noted that 14 of the 15 patients who had performed tai chi indicated that they intended to continue on their own.

BY TIMOTHY F. KIRN

Sacramento Bureau
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Title Annotation:Across Specialties
Author:Kirn, Timothy F.
Publication:Clinical Psychiatry News
Date:Feb 1, 2004
Words:416
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