Monday, October 28, 2013

Yoga can "significantly" improve COPD symptoms, say researchers

Photo: Ambro/
Patients with COPD who practice yoga can improve their lung function, according to a study by researchers at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. The study, found that lung function, shortness of breath, and inflammation all showed significant improvement after patients completed 12 weeks of training.

An estimated 24 million Americans may have COPD, which includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or both. Patients with COPD have trouble pushing used air out of their lungs, making it difficult to take in healthy new air. Although there is no cure for COPD, a patient’s quality of life can be improved by controlling symptoms, such as shortness of breath. COPD, most commonly caused by cigarette smoking, affects both men and women, and often, symptoms are seen in people in their 40s.

“COPD is a systemic inflammatory disease that causes difficulty breathing,” said study presenter Randeep Guleria, MD, professor and head, department of pulmonary medicine and sleep disorders. “We investigated to see whether simple, structured yoga training affects the level of inflammation, shortness of breath, and quality of life in patients with stable COPD.”

The study included 29 stable patients with COPD who received yoga training in a format that included the use of physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), cleansing techniques, (kriyas), meditation, and a relaxation technique (shavasan) for 1 hour, twice a week, for 4 weeks. Following the 4-week period, patients were trained for 1 hour every 2 weeks, with the remaining sessions completed at home. Patients were evaluated on assessment of lung function, breathing, quality of life, and inflammation status. A repeat assessment was done at the end of the 12-week training session. All parameters showed significant improvement at the end of the 12-week period.

“We found that yoga can be a simple, cost-effective method that can help improve quality of life in patients with COPD,” stated Dr. Guleria.

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