Downward dog could have a real benefit for people with irregular heartbeats, according to a small new study.
Researchers from the University of Kansas Hospital and Medical Center found that yoga seems to improve symptoms and quality of life for people with atrial fibrillation. The findings are published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Atrial fibrillation occurs when the heart doesn't beat as it's supposed to -- potentially leading to symptoms of weakness, shortness of breath, confusion, chest pains and heart palpitations, according to the Mayo Clinic. The condition itself isn't usually fatal, but can lead to complications including stroke and heart failure.
The new study included 52 people with occasional atrial fibrillation (called paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, meaning it's not a chronic condition and the heart doesn't always beat abnormally) who underwent standard medical treatment for their heart condition for three months, and then participated in a yoga practice (an hour of yoga twice a week, at least) for the following three months. Forty-nine people completed the study.
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