Stroke survivors and those at risk urged to focus on yoga and tai chiNovember 05 2018
One of Australia’s biggest health issues could be checked if more people took up yoga or tai chi and reduced their blood pressure, an Australian study has found.
Stroke costs the country $5 billion a year through treatment and loss of productivity, affecting 56,000 Australians in 2017, equivalent to one stroke every nine minutes.
A paper published in Future Neurology by researchers from Monash University, the University of South Australia (UniSA) and the University of Melbourne shows the impact that mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) such as yoga and tai chi can have on reducing hypertension, fatty acids and blood sugar levels – all risk factors for stroke.
Researchers say both Eastern practices have the potential to mitigate stroke risk as well as help support stroke survivors.
UniSA Senior Lecturer in Human Movement, Dr Maarten Immink, says physical activity plays an important role in preventing recurrent stroke but many stroke survivors may have limited mobility.
“This is where yoga and tai chi are so helpful. They are gentle, movement-based MBIs which help people focus – a state of mind which stroke survivors often lose – and be active at the same time,” Dr Immink says.
The researchers analysed 26 studies published between 1985 and 2017 which examined how yoga and tai chi moderated key stroke risk factors, including blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, smoking and alcohol consumption, obesity, anxiety and depression.
UniSA Dean of Health Research, Professor Susan Hillier, says there is increasing evidence that MBIs can be an effective and noninvasive way of reducing hypertension – the biggest stroke risk factor.
“Some evidence suggests that MBIs such as yoga and tai chi regulate blood pressure by teaching people to breathe deeply, balancing and stabilising their autonomic nervous system and lowering their heart rate,” Prof Hillier says.
The stroke specialist says nearly one third of adults around the world suffer from high blood pressure, with 23 million additional strokes projected in the next 12 years.
“Survivors of stroke are at an increased risk of another one – 43 per cent likely within 10 years, 32 per cent within five years and 16 per cent within one year – so it is important we find interventions to help reduce the major risk factors,” she says.
Apart from reducing blood pressure, the research shows that MBIs can help improve diabetics’ health by increasing blood and oxygen supply to the tissues, helping to produce insulin, and boosting anti-oxidants.
For a copy of the paper contact Candy Gibson from UniSA's Press Office at: email@example.com
Media contact: Dr Maarten Immink phone +61 8 8302 2675 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Susan Hillier mobile: +61 419 0345 78 email: email@example.com
Candy Gibson mobile 0434 605 142 email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Areas of study and research
- Health Research
- Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA)
- Centre for Cancer Biology
- Centre for Drug Discovery and Development
- Centre for Population Health Research
- Centre of Research Excellence for the Prevention of Chronic Conditions in Rural and Remote High Risk Populations
- International Centre for Allied Health Evidence
- Medicine and Device Surveillance CRE
- Quality Use of Medicines and Pharmacy Research Centre
and Social Sciences
- Art, Architecture and Design
- Communication, International Studies and Languages
- Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy
- Hawke Research Institute
- Asia Pacific Centre for Work Health and Safety
- Australian Centre for Child Protection
- Barbara Hardy Institute
- Centre for Research in Education
- Hawke EU Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence
- Centre for Islamic Thought and Education
- International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding
- Research Centre for Languages and Cultures
- Zero Waste SA Research Centre for Sustainable Design and Behaviour (sd+b)
IT, Engineering and
- Future Industries Institute
- UniSA College