The research, presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Paris by a team from India, found that a three-month program of yoga while recovering from surgery following a heart attack resulted in lower risk.
Those who undertook a daily hour of breathing exercises and gentle movement were about 16 per cent less likely to die over the next five years. Tests showed that participants' hearts were more efficiently pumping blood around the body.
The trial involved patients who had suffered the most serious type of heart attack, where one of the major arteries is blocked. All had undergone surgery to widen the vessels, using a stent to allow blood to flow more freely.
Half the patients were then put on a three month program of yoga, lasting an hour a day. Morning sessions involved exercise and meditation, while in the evening they practiced pranayam' - the yoga practice of breath control. Here are the results
- Over the next five years mortality rates in those who were not given the classes was 25 per cent.
- But in the yoga group, it was 21 per cent - a relative drop of 16 per cent.
- Researchers also found their heart performance was also improved, with an 11 per cent boost to left ventricular ejection fraction - a measure of the heart's ability to pump blood.
- In comparison, those who did not do yoga only saw a four per cent increase.