Heart DiseaseTai Chi

Tai chi really does improve congestive heart failure

A study of 30 patients found that regular classes of tai chi gave patients with heart failure better movement and significantly reduced BNP levels.

Here’s why lowering BNP is important.

BNP (B-type natriuretic peptide) is an objective lab test for the severity of heart failure. This is because the heart is a major source of BNP. It’s proven that blood levels of BNP go up as heart failure gets worse and go down as heart function improves. BNP levels cannot be confused with other diseases the patient might have.

So, this study gives us objective evidence that tai chi benefits patients with heart failure.

Here’s what the 30 patients did.

  • Usual care plus 12 weeks of tai chi training, or usual care without a supervised tai chi regimen
  • Tai chi included traditional warm-up exercises and 5 tai chi forms adapted from Master Cheng Man-Ch’ing’s Yang-style Tai Chi
  • One-hour group classes with experienced tai chi instructors held for one hour, twice weekly
  • Patients were allowed to progress at their own pace
  • Videotape was provided for home practice

Other benefits.

  • Improved quality-of-life scores
  • Faster 6-minute walk distance
  • Trends toward improvement in peak VO2 — more oxygen going to the muscles
  • Improved heart function measured during sleep

This research was collaborative effort between Harvard Medical School ‘s Osher Institute and the New England School of Acupuncture

11/5/06 10:55 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.