Yoga and tai chi reduce risk of stroke
Following an initial stroke, two in five people will experience another stroke, which is often more severe and fatal. In 2017, more than 56,000 people were affected by this debilitating condition, which is equivalent to one stroke every nine minutes. Stroke specialists warn that stroke survivors are 43 per cent likely to have another stroke within 10 years, 32 per cent within five years and 16 per cent within one year. These statistics are alarming and it’s important to find interventions that help reduce the major risk factors associated with stroke. Now, researchers from Australia say that mindfulness-based interventions such as yoga and tai chi can reduce these risks.
Interventions like yoga and tai chi regulate blood pressure by teaching people to breathe deeply, which balances their autonomic nervous system and lowers their heart rate.
For this study, researchers from Monash University, the University of South Australia (UniSA) and the University of Melbourne analysed 26 studies published between 1985 and 2017 that examined how yoga and tai chi impacted key stroke risk factors including blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, smoking and alcohol consumption, obesity, anxiety and depression.
The analysis showed that yoga or tai chi can reduce hypertension (up to 16/9 mmHg) and can improve some lipid and blood sugar levels. Hypertension is one of the biggest risk factors for stroke and there is increasing evidence that mindfulness-based interventions can be an effective and non-invasive way of reducing hypertension. According to the researchers, interventions like yoga and tai chi regulate blood pressure by teaching people to breathe deeply, which balances their autonomic nervous system and lowers their heart rate.
While further research is needed, this study provides the potential to mitigate stroke risk as well as support stroke survivors with the help of mindfulness-based interventions. Many stroke survivors have limited mobility and physical activity is important in preventing another stroke. This is where yoga and tai chi are helpful as they are gentle movement-based interventions that help stroke survivors focus mentally while being physically active.
Source: Future Neurology
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