World AFib Awareness Day Returns to Tulsa

In 2013, Oklahoma Heart Institute joined institutions from around the world celebrating World Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Awareness Day at our AFib and Yoga seminar and yoga session. It was a great success and this year we are happy to announce cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. David Sandler is taking the Oklahoma Heart Institute AFib and Yoga seminar to the outdoor stage at Lululemon Community Yoga at Guthrie Green Wednesday, September 10, 2014. Dr. Sandler will talk about the benefits of yoga for those who suffer from AFib and the latest research, led by colleague and friend, Dr. DJ Lakkireddy.

The Role of Stress and Yoga on AFib

In a recent interview with, Dr. Lakkireddy discusses the way in which stress affects patients with AFib. “When you really look at the source of arrhythmias in human beings, the central nervous system actually has a lot of components,” explains Dr. Lakkireddy. “And any time your body is under stress, anxiety, and fear, there are components of your brain that are activated, which then transmit impulses to you autonomic nervous system, triggering arrhythmias, both in the atria as well as the ventricles. It’s a well-defined phenomenon that has been well studied. Now, we clearly know that the central nervous system has a role to play on the cardiovascular system.”

Dr. Lakkireddy first began to study the impact of counteracting the feelings of stress and anxiety as triggers for AFib episodes after one of his own patients reported being able to control symptoms through deep breathing and 15 to 20 minutes of yoga.  Studying patients with paroxysmal AFib and monitoring the extent of their arrhythmias, Dr. Lakkireddy recorded the number and severity of their episodes. After three months, he prescribed the patients regular yoga exercise three times a week for three months. “What we found was about a 35 percent to 40 percent reduction in the number of episodes of atrial fibrillation, and that effect seems to be directly proportional to the number of episodes of yoga that they did,” he shares.

With its increase in popularity and accessibility, yoga is a therapy Dr. Lakkireddy says all patients with AFib should talk to their cardiologist about as it is “the most inexpensive and the most non-invasive way of actually affecting your clinical profile,” he adds. “It really helps to improve the symptom burden to a great degree.”

Dr. Lakkireddy also says the research suggests a consistent yoga practice can help stop the progression of paroxysmal AFib to persistent AFib. “Yoga can actually be a very good intervention here, because yoga reduces the number of episodes of AFib, so that means it is decreasing the probability of you developing more systemic inflammation,” he explains. “It is also clearly established that doing yoga reduces the overall inflammatory burden on your body, which I think can result in positive modulations. Yoga decreases blood pressures, yoga decreases the sympathetic surge in your body, all of which are proinflammatory factors, which promote evolution of the substrate from paroxysmal to persistent, so I think it makes absolute sense.”

Please join Oklahoma Heart Institute at Lululemon’s Yoga Session at Guthrie Green Wednesday, September 10, 2014 from 6 to 7pm. The first 50 people in attendance will receive an Oklahoma Heart Institute complementary yoga mat. Dr. David Sandler will begin the yoga session with a discussion on the benefits of yoga for AFib.