Friday, April 29, 2011


Tai Chi is a rather popular form of exercise in China and also locally. When I was in Beijing, senior citizens will gather in parks to do their exercises and more often then not, it would be some form of Tai Chi. Well, it is true that tai Chi helps seniors, especially those with heart failure.
There is a small paper by Dr Gloria Teh of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, published in the 25th April issue of the Arch of Int Medicine entitled "Tai chi exercise in patients with chronic heart failure: a randomized clinical trial". They studied 100 patients with class 1-3 heart failure, and poor LVEF, all less then 40% with a mean LVEF of 29%. 50 patients were given 12 weeks of TaiChi exercise and 50 were send for heart failure education lessons. At the end of 12 weeks, those on Tai Chi class had much better quality of life indices. The indices used included the Minnesota Heart Failure questionaire, the Cardiac Exercise self Efficacy instrument, and the Profile of Mood state.
I suppose, it is not surprising, that with exercise, fitness should improve and so mood states, confidence and quality of life. What I was quite keen to see, was whether the LVEF showed any difference. Well, that was not stated. I suppose it probably did not differ. I suppose, 12 weeks is too soon for structural changes. There is a possibility however, that when one feels better, the circulating serum adrenaline should reduce, and so the LV should perform with less stress. It would also have been helpful if Dr Teh and colleagues have also measured the serum BNP, adrenaline and noradrenaline levels, to give us an idea of how these stress hormones responded to exercise and a more calm state.
Anyway, a simple paper to discuss a simple point. It does, obviously call for more study which I fear will not materialised as more studies will cost more, and very few pharmas would be willing to invest in something which they cannot patent and get returns.
In the meantime, all patients with heart failure should know that TaiChi does no harm and infact, may do good for you.

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