Stroke survivors and those at risk urged to focus on yoga and tai chi

Posted in Other Conditions

University of South Australia, Nov 2018

One of Australia's biggest health issues could be checked if more people took up yoga or tai chi and reduced their blood pressure, an Australian study has found.

One of Australia's biggest health issues could be checked if more people took up yoga or tai chi and reduced their blood pressure, an Australian study has found.

Stroke costs the country $5 billion a year through treatment and loss of productivity, affecting 56,000 Australians in 2017, equivalent to one stroke every nine minutes.

A paper published in Future Neurology by researchers from Monash University, the University of South Australia (UniSA) and the University of Melbourne shows the impact that mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) such as yoga and tai chi can have on reducing hypertension, fatty acids and blood sugar levels -- all risk factors for stroke.

Researchers say both Eastern practices have the potential to mitigate stroke risk as well as help support stroke survivors.

UniSA Senior Lecturer in Human Movement, Dr Maarten Immink, says physical activity plays an important role in preventing recurrent stroke but many stroke survivors may have limited mobility.

"This is where yoga and tai chi are so helpful. They are gentle, movement-based MBIs which help people focus -- a state of mind which stroke survivors often lose -- and be active at the same time," Dr Immink says.

The researchers analysed 26 studies published between 1985 and 2017 which examined how yoga and tai chi moderated key stroke risk factors, including blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, smoking and alcohol consumption, obesity, anxiety and depression.

Journal Reference:

Tharshanah Thayabaranathan, Maarten A Immink, Philip Stevens, Susan Hillier, Amanda G Thrift, Amy Brodtmann, Leeanne Carey, Monique F Kilkenny, Dominique A Cadilhac. Understanding the potential for yoga and tai chi interventions to moderate risk factors for stroke – a scoping review. Future Neurology, 2018; 13 (4): 239 DOI: 10.2217/fnl-2018-0005

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