Tai chi for cardiac rehab training is designed to harness the well documented therapeutic benefits of Tai Chi and Chi-Kung along with Alexander Technique, NLP, mindfulness, CBT etc. The aim is to create change both mental and physical, and to encourage continued personal development. This is in line with the recommendations of NICE clinical guideline CG172.
- Improved mind & body awareness through Tai Chi skills
- improved personal stability/alignment and relaxation
- Change people's phobic response to their conditions (read more under NLP and Hypnotherapy)
- Ideal for phase 3 & 4
Recent study shows benefits of Tai Chi for cardiac patients
We have ran a tai chi for cardiac rehabilitation pilot program in South Birmingham in 2007 and measured patient improvement with the Dartmouth Coop score as recommended by BACR. the report is now complete and due to be published. In brief
- To provide access to a phase IV cardiac rehabilitation programme for patients who have been discharged from UHBfT following an acute cardiac event or intervention through the provision of a weekly Tai Chi Class for in the community setting.
- To quantitatively evaluate the Tai Chi programme quantitatively using the established COOP charts as advocated by the British Association of Cardiac Rehabilitation (BACR), which measure functional status and quality of life tool
- To qualitatively evaluate the Tai Chi programme by using case histories of participants.
Significant improvements were reported in the entire COOP dimensions analysed. The most evident being the positive change in health reported in 76% of the cohort. Over half of the participants reported improvements in overall health (58%), and emotional status (50%). A further 45% of patients reported improvements in their ability to undertake daily activities, and 41% in their ability to undertake social activities. Improvement in physical fitness was reported in 32% of the cohort.
At initial COOP chart assessment none of the patients reported the least extreme dimension (i.e. score 1) for any of the COOP charts used At endpoint; 65% were fully integrating socially, 44% were able to undertake their daily activities with no difficulty at all, 29% reported their health was much better, 17% reported not being bothered by emotional problems and 5% reported they were able to undertaken strenuous activity regularly. COOP chart analysis suggested that Tai Chi had improved the general health and well being of this cohort.
The improvements achieved by participating in Tai Chi were also reflected in improved quality of life for patients as evident in the case histories. Patients were able to re-commence employment, avoid the need for planned orthopaedic surgery and actively participate in helping other cardiac patients; this was evident through speaking at support groups and education classes and also by offering individual support to patients during the Tai Chi classes themselves.
Tai Chi for cardiac rehabilitation
More great news for those rehabilitating from Cardiac related illness! And for everyone else! The BBC reported on a US study of 30 patients which found regular Tai Chi classes gave patients better movement and reduced BNP levels, a measure of heart failure. The British Heart Foundation said the study was "excellent news" and Tai Chi could be adopted into treatment programmes in the UK in the future. In fact, another study in The Harvard Women's Health Watch, reported, "studies support Tai Chi [use] for heart-attack and cardiac-bypass patients, to improve cardio-respiratory function and reduce blood pressure." While, the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine reported that Tai Chi "results in favourable lipid profile changes and improve subjects' anxiety status. Therefore, Tai Chi could be used as an alternative modality in treating patients with mild hypertension, with a promising economic effect."
This lowering of high blood pressure and creating more favourable lipid levels bodes well for all of us. A study in the Journal of American Geriatrics reported data substantiating that practicing Tai Chi regularly may delay the decline of cardio-respiratory function in older individuals. In addition, TC may be prescribed as a suitable aerobics exercise for older adults.
Tai Chi is shown to lower high blood pressure in several studies. An article in WebMD explains that the anger-associated hormones coming from the adrenal gland, located on or near the kidneys when over stimulated result in higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They reported that William H. Mueller, PhD (Behavioural epidemiologist and professor of behavioural sciences at the School of Public Health at the University of Texas in Houston), explained that Tai Chi is documented to calm those "fight or flight" chemicals and promote healing.
Once we realize that heart disease, like most illness, is caused by stress it is easy to see why Tai Chi is such an effective preventative or rehabilitative therapy for heart disease and health (Kaiser Permente 20 year study found 70 to 85% of illness sending patients to their doctors were caused by stress). At the Institute of Psychology, Academia Sinica, a research study found that Tai Chi and QiGong practice can positively affect the states of mind of subjects to lessen the incidence of Type-A behaviour patterns, believed to increase the risk of heart disease. As early as 1989, the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, reported on a study finding that "Relative to measurement beforehand, practice of Tai Chi raised heart rate, increased nonadrenaline excretion in urine, and decreased salivary cortisol concentration. Relative to baseline levels, [Test Subjects] reported less tension, depression, anger, fatigue, confusion and state-anxiety; they felt more vigorous, and in general they had less total mood disturbance."
Tai Chi is perhaps the lowest impact exercise one can do, and is gentle and easy enough to do in business clothes at the office. Yet, recent studies show that Tai Chi can provide much the same cardiovascular benefit as moderate impact aerobics. In fact, a study from the Journal of American Geriatrics reported by Reuters found that Tai Chi lowered high blood pressure in older adults even more than regular aerobics. The fact that Tai Chi can do this without speeding up their heart rates, changes the way medicine looks at cardio vascular physical therapies. Dr. Deborah Rohm Young, of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, Maryland (a researcher in this study) said that these finding ``suggest that (exercise) intensity may be less important than other factors'' when it comes to lowering high blood pressure.
Yet, there may be another aspect of Tai Chi that helps prevent heart disease. An odd study result appeared a few years ago showing a correlation between regular dental flossing and reduced heart disease. Some speculate that the reduction of chronic gum infections that flossing fosters, makes life easier for the heart which is strained by the body fighting infections. This is where Tai Chi comes in, because research is now revealing that Tai Chi profoundly boosts the body's ability to fight viral infections. A study conducted in China indicates that Tai Chi may increase the number of T lymphocytes in the body. Also know as T-Cells, these lymphocytes help the immune system destroy bacteria and possibly even tumour cells. A more recent study at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), in what is believed to be the first study of its kind conducted in the United States, researchers have shown that behavioural interventions and integrative exercise programs such as tai chi can have a direct, positive effect on the immune system in older adults. The September/October issue of Psychosomatic Medicine reported that the scientists found "a nearly 50 percent increase" of varicella virus responder cells in Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) patients from the start of the study to the one-week post-TCC period. On a patient-by-patient basis, levels of memory T-cells increased in nine TCC patients, remained unchanged in seven=20patients and decreased in one patient. In the control group, memory T-cell levels increased in three patients, were unchanged in eight patients and decreased in five patients.
Fact is that all the same benefits Tai Chi and Qigong (Chi Kung) provide those in heart health therapy, or cardiac rehabilitation, are the benefits that bode well for everyone. Tai Chi's uniquely multidimensional benefits put it in a class by itself as far as comprehensive benefits provided by one easy to use, gentle on the body, fitness regimen. The exercise entwines the mind, body, and emotional systems and the chemicals that link these aspects of ourselves to create a powerful life enhancing tool, as well as a health & fitness tool. As modern medicine continues to discover the links between the heart, mind, and physical health, Tai Chi will increasingly emerge as a giant in the future of modern health care.
Many patients are not deemed physically able to follow the route of gym based exercise, or even inclined to take to the idea of exercise at all...