Tai chi improves mood and quality of life in heart failure patients, report says

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Tai chi exercises might be able to help improve heart failure patients' quality of life, mood and confidence, new research finds.

People with heart failure experience shortness of breath, coughing, chronic venous congestion, ankle swelling and difficulty exercising due to the heart's inability to pump blood efficiently. The gentle movements of tai chi involve circular rotations, weight shifting and breathing techniques to promote balance and strength. Previous studies have shown it to be helpful in treating depression, hypertension and arthritis pain.

To study its effects on heart failure, scientists from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School randomly assigned 100 heart failure patients 12 weeks of tai chi classes or educational sessions about heart failure. They found that both groups displayed similar oxygen use in six-minute walks, but the tai chi group exhibited better improvement with regard to quality of life. These patients also burned more calories each week and showed improvement in their mood.

The research was published in Monday's issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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