23. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Cardiac, Heart Disease, Tai Chi Chuan

Tai chi training can improve renal and cardiac functions in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Chinese researchers randomly divided 21 patients with CKD and CVD into exercise and control groups. The exercise group performed tai chi for 30 minutes, three to five times a week for 12 weeks, while the control group did not. Patients’ renal and cardiac functions and blood lipid parameters were measured at baseline and after 12 weeks. After 12 weeks of tai chi, increases were observed in the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR, a marker of kidney function), left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF, a marker of heart function) and in serum levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL, ‘good’ cholesterol) level. Decreases were seen in heart rate (HR), systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and in serum levels of creatinine (Scr), total cholesterol (CH), triglycerides (TG) and low density lipoprotein (LDL, ‘bad’ cholesterol). The change in eGFR correlated negatively with the changes in CH, TG and LDL, and positively with the change in HDL. In addition, the change in SBP correlated positively with the changes in CH, TG and LDL, and negatively with the change in HDL. The authors conclude that tai chi training may improve renal and cardiac functions in CKD and CVD patients via improved regulation of lipid metabolism. (The effects of tai chi on the renal and cardiac functions of patients with chronic kidney and cardiovascular diseases. J Phys Ther Sci. 2014 Nov;26(11):1733-6).

A satisfying life is good for the health of the heart, shows the results from a large study of British civil servants. Coronary risk factors and satisfaction within seven life domains (love relationships, leisure activities, standard of living, job, family, sex, and one’s self) were assessed in 7956 initially healthy members of the Whitehall II study cohort. Participants rated their satisfaction in each domain on a scale of one (‘very dissatisfied’) to seven (‘very satisfied’). Ratings for each domain were also combined to provide an average life satisfaction score. Participants’ health records were then examined for coronary deaths, heart attacks, and angina over a six-year follow-up period. Results showed that higher levels of average life satisfaction were associated with a significantly reduced risk (13%) of coronary heart disease. This reduced risk of heart disease was also associated with satisfaction in four specific life domains – job, family, sex and self – and was found in both men and women. A statistically significant dose–response effect was found – so that those reporting the greatest average life satisfaction enjoyed the greatest risk reduction in total coronary disease. (Heart health when life is satisfying: evidence from the Whitehall II cohort study. Eur Heart J. 2011 Nov;32(21):2672-7).

Drinking several cups of tea daily can cut your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) by more than a third, according to Dutch researchers.  The investigators followed 40,000 healthy people for 13 years, finding that participants who drank between three and six cups of tea per day were 45% less likely to die from heart disease than those who drank less than a cup a day.  Moderate coffee consumption was also associated with a slightly reduced rate of CHD mortality.(Tea and coffee consumption and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2010 Aug;30(8):1665-71).

Taking part in a six-month tai chi (TC) exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation program may lead to a better prognosis for cardiac events in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). Fifty-four Taiwanese patients were randomised to usual care or usual care plus TC (weekly 90 minute sessions of Yang-style TC) for six months. A treadmill exercise test was performed to evaluate their exercise test responses at baseline and six months. The TC exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation programme was associated with improved peak RPP (rate pressure product) and RPP reserve during exercise testing in patients with CAD. The improvement over time in two prognostic factors of cardiac events was found to be significantly different between the TC and control groups. (Effects of Tai Chi rehabilitation on heart rate responses in patients with coronary artery disease. Am J Chin Med. 2010;38(3):461-72).

Tai chi can enhance sleep stability in patients with chronic heart failure. Researchers analysed 24-hour continuous ECG data obtained in a clinical trial of tai chi in 18 patients with heart failure. At 12 weeks, those who participated in tai chi showed a significant increase in EEG parameters that indicated improved sleep stability. These improvements were correlated with better disease-specific quality of life and could lead to a decrease in blood pressure and likelihood of arrhythmia. (Enhancement of sleep stability with Tai Chi exercise in chronic heart failure: Preliminary findings using an ECG-based spectrogram method. Sleep Med. 2007 Aug 2 1Epub ahead of print]). Another study carried out in 52 patients with chronic heart failure found that although objective measures of exercise tolerance did not improve significantly with tai chi, patients who did tai chi showed improvement in symptom scores of heart failure and depression, compared with patients in the control group. (An evaluation of the effects of Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Kung training in patients with symptomatic heart failure: a randomised controlled pilot study Postgrad Med J. 2007 Nov;83(985):717-21).

Evidence for the manifold benefits of green tea continues to mount. Recent studies have shown a significant preventive effect against colorectal and oral cancer in women who drank green tea regularly, and a 48% reduction in risk of developing advanced prostate cancer in men who drank five or more cups a day (over 14 years). Green tea extract may also be a promising treatment for skin disorders such as psoriasis and for preventing lethal bacterial sepsis. Meanwhile black tea appears to decrease bone loss in elderly women, reduce plasma glucose concentrations and stimulate insulin production, and have favourable effects on markers of coronary heart disease.

New research suggests that Mormons’ habit of fasting for one day a month may benefit their hearts. A study in Utah, where the religion is based, surveyed 515 elderly people undergoing coronary angiography for suspected heart disease about their lifestyle. Those who fasted were 39% more likely than non-fasters to have a healthy heart. About 8% of those surveyed were not Mormons, and those who regularly fasted were also found to have lower rates of heart disease. The authors speculate that abstaining from food may resensitise pancreatic beta cells to insulin, slowing the development of insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. Diabetic damage to blood vessels increases the risk of heart disease. (American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions, November 2007).