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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 24-29

The yoga–meditation heart connection: A pilot study looking to improve women's heart health

1 Department of Medicine, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, USA
2 Department of Cardiology, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sasha De Jesus
Department of Medicine, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ACCJ.ACCJ_5_18

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Background: Stress, anxiety, and depression are nontraditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) that are more common in women. For nearly four decades, we have seen a steady decline in the number of deaths in women related to heart disease, especially in those >65 years old. However, recent data suggests there has been a stagnation among women <55 years. With this, it is imperative that we continue to increase awareness, understand, and research the unique pathophysiology of women's CVD, and increase recognition of the prevalence of nontraditional risk factors that are more common in women such as stress, anxiety and depression. Aims and Objectives: Although there is limited understanding of the mechanism behind its benefit, measures such as yoga and meditation may decrease morbidity in patients with CVD. With this in mind, we hypothesize that regular, supervised sessions of chair yoga and meditation can be a complementary measure to decrease the level of anxiety, stress and depression in female patients with or at risk for CVD, as well as increase their likelihood to pursue lifestyle modifications. Methods: Participants of a weekly complimentary chair yoga/meditation workshop supervised by a trained cardiac yoga therapist performed a survey on day 1 and on week 24. A total of 16 and 10 female participants with or at risk for CVD completed the initial and follow-up survey, respectively, which included validated screening tools for depression, anxiety, and stress. Results: The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 from the initial to the follow-up survey showed an increase in the mean score (2.25 vs. 3.2). Despite this, the severity remained as minimal depression. The mean Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 went from 7 to 4.9 (decreased from mild to no clinical anxiety). Finally, the perceived stress score demonstrated a reduction from 18.25 to 15.2, both remaining as moderate perceived stress. Participants also endorsed a trend toward healthier eating habits, and 37.5% of participants endorsed a 3–9 lbs weight loss. Conclusion: Given the low harm and cost of these measures, they can be done as adjuvants to our standard of care to increase the patient's overall well being by improving the psychological aspect of their lives, which in turn could reflect on their physical health.

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