Yoga and Atrial Fibrillation: What’s the connection?

Leading an active, healthy lifestyle has great benefits when it comes to cardiovascular issues, but what about the practice of yoga in relation to atrial fibrillation, or AFib? We talked to Dr. David Sandler, director of electrophysiology at Oklahoma Heart Institute, to learn more.

“When it comes to yoga, the main message is that the lifestyle helps prevent heart disease, including atrial fibrillation,” said Dr. Sandler. “80 percent of heart disease cases are preventable, AFib included. Yoga is basically a paradigm for healthy living. Yoga specifically has been shown to reduce a number of cardiovascular markers and events like lowering blood pressure and arrhythmias.”

Yoga is beneficial for individuals who are opposed to taking medications or want additional benefits from medications. “Cases show that there’s an almost 50 percent reduction in episodes of AFib in patients who have been doing yoga,” said Sandler. “A regimented yoga routine has been shown to reduce people’s adrenaline levels, and it really helps balance out the influences that impact arrhythmia.”

Practicing yoga can help reduce and/or eliminate stress. “We’ve seen that there’s a strong mind and body connection when it comes to arrhythmias,” said Dr. Sandler. “Helping mellow out that mind and body connection and taking the stress out of it can dramatically improve your arrhythmias.”

For the past few years, Oklahoma Heart Institute has offered a yoga event. This year, for the first time, it was held at Forest Orchard Park which is just around the corner from the hospital.

“This is our fifth year hosting Yoga in the Park,” said Dr. Sandler. “We host this event to raise awareness around AFib. Even if you are not personally living with AFib, you might know someone who is. At Yoga in the Park, we want to inform people that this is a great way of treating their condition and reducing their arrhythmias.”