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22 April 2024

Media release

Yoga/AF study

A world-first randomised study out of the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and Alfred Health will determine whether yoga practised regularly reduces the incidence and symptoms of atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common heart rhythm disorder.

Research has shown that relaxation techniques can have a positive effect on atrial fibrillation, but Baker Institute head of Clinical Electrophysiology Professor Peter Kistler will investigate whether regular yoga can modify our body’s autonomic nervous system.

“We believe that regular yoga can help to modify our body’s involuntary flight-fright response, which we do know is important in triggering and maintaining AF,” Prof Kistler said.

“Through this study, we hope to determine if yoga does actually reduce the incidence and symptoms of AF, and if so, to identify the mechanisms behind how and why yoga might be beneficial.”

Data collected from the study will be later used to also look at the effect of yoga on a person’s lipids, diabetes and blood pressure.

We are looking for 240 people with atrial fibrillation to take part in the study, with half randomised to participate in yoga and the other half as the control group.

“We will provide or pay for three yoga sessions a week for those randomised to the yoga group,” Prof Kistler said. “For the first three months, we’d prefer participants attend classes in-person, at whichever studio the participant would like to attend, so they can get the techniques right, and then classes will move online.”

Participants will undergo a pre-study health screening with an atrial fibrillation specialist and have their hearts monitored throughout the study.

Tommy Kende was a bass guitarist with Australian rock band Juke Kartel, who had hit singles in the early 2000s and opened for Nickelback, for Slash from Gun N’Roses, and played with Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee. They were also regulars at the notorious Viper Room in LA.

Tommy was introduced to yoga while living in LA with his record contract nearing its end, and at crossroad in his life. He is now a yoga instructor, mindfulness coach and podcaster. Tommy will be a yoga instructor for the study.

“Yoga turned my life around,” Tommy said. “It brought about a huge shift and change in me so the more I can share the benefits of yoga the better.

“I’ll be running one of the classes each week and be a support mechanism for participants. I plan to keep them on the yoga wagon all the way to the end.”

If you’re interested in participating in the study, visit the Yoga/AF study on our website for information and to determine eligibility.

For further information or to organise interviews please contact:

Catherine Butterfield
03 8532 1240
M: 0417 019 750
E: catherine.butterfield@baker.edu.au

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With the rising number of Australians affected by diabetes, heart disease and stroke, the need for research is more critical than ever.

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