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Heart Disease & Yoga Therapy

In Australia someone dies from heart disease every 30 minutes. Around 1.2 million of us, or about 5.6 per cent of the population over the age of 18 live with cardiovascular disease.

What are the chances of Heart Disease…

In Australia someone dies from heart disease every 30 minutes. Around 1.2 million of us, or about 5.6 per cent of the population over the age of 18 live with cardiovascular disease. This statistic dramatically increases for those in their senior years. Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death and disability for Australian men and women. It amounts to 27% of all deaths in Australia. We need to be familiar with these statistics, be knowledgeable about heart disease, and aware of the symptoms and risks. Therefore without doubt, there will be someone in our yoga class or seeking yoga therapy who has cardiovascular disease.

What is Heart Disease?

Heart Research Australia explains, cardiovascular disease is a number of conditions involving the heart or the circulation of blood through the blood vessels:

  • coronary heart disease
  • heart attack
  • heart failure
  • stroke
  • arrhythmias – abnormal heart beats
  • aneurysm – a bulge caused by weakening of the heart muscle or artery
  • septal defect – an abnormal opening between the left and right sides of the heart
  • peripheral vascular disease – a disease of the large blood vessels of the arms, legs, and feet
  • rheumatic heart disease – caused by rheumatic fever, and mainly affecting the heart valves
  • congenital heart disease – defects or malformations in the heart or blood vessels that occur before birth.

Who is at risk of Heart Disease?

Liz Williams, medical trainer and yoga therapy educator with the Yoga Therapy Institute, discusses in her Healthy Ageing workshop on cardiovascular disease (Session 1) that as we get older we are all at risk of cardiovascular disease, yet there are basic things we can do to reduce the risks. This includes yoga.

The known risks of heart disease include,

  • Age
  • Family history of cardiovascular disease
  • Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Being inactive
  • Being overweight
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Smoking

The impact of Cardiovascular Disease on our daily lives

Research from Harvard Medical School demonstrates that to maintain Healthy Ageing we need to focus on our attitude, social contact, mobility, sleep, diet and reduce, if not eliminate any high risk habits,” Liz explained.

“The challenges with heart disease it can really impact on mobility and quality of life. Yoga supports the physical, the emotional and especially our psychological wellbeing. Therefore, it is an effective tool in reducing our stresses, a key contributor to cardiovascular conditions, and it helps us to maintain mobility and be active no matter our age.”

Other challenges experienced by those living with cardiovascular disease are the medications to control their conditions. These can have side effects, such as body aches and pains, and fatigue. Furthermore they can also impact mobility, increasing the risk of falls and accidents.

Yoga Therapy a supportive tool for Cardiovascular health

“We need to develop individual yoga programs for our older clients, especially those living with or are at risk of cardiovascular disease.” Liz said. “It must be a therapeutic and an integrative approach where we listen to our clients and work in with their existing medical treatment plans.

“Too often, older people attend a yoga class and they are poorly supervised or not considered at all. The focus needs to be on function, not about correct alignment. Props must be used as the starting point, not as an add-on.”

Liz, a senior teacher with the Yoga Therapy Institute, hosts the online Yoga for Healthy Ageing Workshops and Teaching Yoga for Seniors, both include information on how to support clients with cardiovascular disease.

Resources

https://www.heartresearch.com.au/

https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/over-nearly-80-years-harvard-study-has-been-showing-how-to-live-a-healthy-and-happy-life/

https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/chronic-conditions/what-were-doing-about-chronic-conditions/what-were-doing-about-cardiovascular-conditions

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