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PurposeTo examine the effects of a 12-week tai chi program on quality of life and exercise capacity in patients with heart failure. Methods Thirty patients with chronic stable heart failure and left ventricular ejection fraction ≤40% (mean [± SD] age, 64 ± 13 years; mean baseline ejection fraction, 23% ± 7%; median New York Heart Association class, 2 [range, 1 to 4]) were randomly assigned to receive usual care (n = 15), which included pharmacologic therapy and dietary and exercise counseling, or 12 weeks of tai chi training (n = 15) in addition to usual care. Tai chi training consisted of a 1-hour class held twice weekly. Primary outcomes included quality of life and exercise capacity. Secondary outcomes included serum B-type natriuretic peptide and plasma catecholamine levels. For 3 control patients with missing data items at 12 weeks, previous values were carried forward. Results At 12 weeks, patients in the tai chi group showed improved quality-of-life scores (mean between-group difference in change, –25 points, P = 0.001), increased distance walked in 6 minutes (135 meters, P = 0.001), and decreased serum B-type natriuretic peptide levels (–138 pg/mL, P = 0.03) compared with patients in the control group. A trend towards improvement was seen in peak oxygen uptake. No differences were detected in catecholamine levels. Conclusion Tai chi may be a beneficial adjunctive treatment that enhances quality of life and functional capacity in patients with chronic heart failure who are already receiving standard medical therapy.

A systematic review of the literature on the effect of tai chi exercise on blood pressure (BP) was performed. The authors searched Medline, CAB, Alt HealthWatch, BIOSIS previews, Science Citation Index, and EMBASE systems (inception through January 2007); researched Chinese Medical, China Hospital Knowledge, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, and China Traditional Chinese Medicine databases (inception to June 2005); and performed hand searches at the medical libraries of Beijing and Nanjing Universities. Clinical studies of tai chi examining BP as an outcome published in English or Chinese were included. Studies reporting only acute exercise effects were excluded. Data were extracted in a standardized manner and 2 independent investigators assessed methodologic quality. Twenty-six studies examining patients with and without cardiovascular conditions met inclusion criteria: 9 randomized controlled trials, 13 nonrandomized studies, and 4 observational studies. Study heterogeneity precluded formal meta-analyses. Twenty-two studies (85%) reported reductions in BP with tai chi (3–32 mm Hg systolic and 2–18 mm Hg diastolic BP reductions). Five randomized controlled trials were of adequate quality (Jadad score ≥3). No adverse effects were reported. Tai chi exercise may reduce BP and serve as a practical, nonpharmacologic adjunct to conventional hypertension management.

ObjectiveTo assess the effects of a 12-week Tai Chi exercise program on sleep using the sleep spectrogram, a method based on a single channel electrocardiogram (ECG)-derived estimation of cardiopulmonary coupling, previously shown to identify stable and unstable sleep states. Methods We retrospectively analyzed 24-h continuous ECG data obtained in a clinical trial of Tai Chi exercise in patients with heart failure. Eighteen patients with chronic stable heart failure, left ventricular ejection fraction ⩽40% (mean [±standard deviation] age, 59±14 years, mean baseline ejection fraction 24%±8%, mean) were randomly assigned to receive usual care (N=10), which included pharmacological therapy and dietary and exercise counseling, or 12 weeks of Tai Chi training (N=8) in addition to usual care. Using the ECG-based sleep spectrogram, we compared intervention and control groups by evaluating baseline and 12-week high (stable) and low (unstable) frequency coupling (HFC & LFC, respectively) as a percentage of estimated total sleep time (ETST). Results At 12 weeks, those who participated in Tai Chi showed a significant increase in HFC (+0.05±0.10 vs. −0.06±0.09 % ETST, p=0.04) and significant reduction in LFC (−0.09±0.09 vs. +0.13±0.13 % ETST, p<0.01), compared to patients in the control group. Correlations were seen between improved sleep stability and better disease-specific quality of life. Conclusions Tai Chi exercise may enhance sleep stability in patients with chronic heart failure. This sleep effect may have a beneficial impact on blood pressure, arrhythmogenesis and quality of life.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the feasibility of a randomized controlled trial of the effect of a tai chi program on quality of life and exercise capacity in patients with COPD.METHODS: We randomized 10 patients with moderate to severe COPD to 12 weeks of tai chi plus usual care (n = 5) or usual care alone (n = 5). The tai chi training consisted of a 1-hour class, twice weekly, that emphasized gentle movement, relaxation, meditation, and breathing techniques. Exploratory outcomes included disease-specific symptoms and quality-of-life, exercise capacity, pulmonary function tests, mood, and self-efficacy. We also conducted qualitative interviews to capture patient narratives regarding their experience with tai chi. RESULTS: The patients were willing to be randomized. Among 4 of the 5 patients in the intervention group, adherence to the study protocol was excellent. The cohort's baseline mean ± SD age, percent-of-predicted FEV1, and ratio of FEV1 to forced vital capacity were 66 ± 6 y, 50 ± 12%, and 0.63 ± 0.14, respectively. At 12 weeks there was significant improvement in Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire score among the tai chi participants (1.4 ± 1.1), compared to the usual-care group (−0.1 ± 0.4) (P = .03). There were nonsignificant trends toward improvement in 6-min walk distance (55 ± 47 vs –13 ± 64 m, P = .09), Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (−9.0 ± 9.1 vs −2.8 ± 4.3, P = .20), and University of California, San Diego Shortness of Breath score (−7.8 ± 3.5 vs −1.2 ± 11, P = .40). There were no significant changes in either group's peak oxygen uptake. CONCLUSIONS: A randomized controlled trial of tai chi is feasible in patients with moderate to severe COPD. Tai chi exercise as an adjunct to standard care warrants further investigation. (ClinicalTrials.gov registration NCT01007903)