In this study, conducted at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, 100 patients at risk for coronary heart disease and type-II diabetes were divided into two groups – one of them was prescribed conventional lifestyle modification such as exercise, diet and smoking cessation while the other was prescribed yogic exercises in addition.
“There was a significant reduction in body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and total cholesterol among others in both the groups. But when compared with the conventional lifestyle group, the yoga group had a significantly greater decrease in BMI, low density lipoprotein cholestrol (LDL) and increase in high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL),” said D S C Manchanda, the lead author of the study, and head of the cardiology department at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
Manchanda said that mechanisms underlying regression of early arthrosclerosis – thickening of the artery wall – in metabolic syndrome was not clear though. “Control of several risk factors like hypertension, type-II diabetes mellitus lipids, reversal or preventive effects of both psychological and oxidative stress and reducing inflammation may be contributing factors,” he added.
On the basis of the study results, cardiologists say, yoga may be a cost effective technique to target multiple risk factors for heart disease and type-II diabetes prevention. “Though larger trials are required, it is suggested that yoga may be incorporated in the therapeutic lifestyle modifications for metabolic syndrome as well as coronary heart disease and type-II diabetes,” Dr Manchanda said.
Yogic exercises that have been shown to have positive impact include breathing exercises such as pranayamas and anulom-vilom – alternate nose breathing. Asanas like surya namaskar, tadasna and vajrasana have also been shown to have positive impact on patients.
Non-communicable diseases, chiefly cardiovascular diseases , diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases, are the major cause of adult mortality and morbidity worldwide. “Most of the non-communicable diseases, for example diabetes or heart disease, affect the person in the productive years. It causes reduced productivity and early retirement. Also, it puts immense pressure on the public health expenditure as in most cases the treatment costs are higher compared to the communicable diseases. Preventive strategies such as yoga must be propagated for better health,” said a senior doctor.