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Assessment of significance of Yoga on quality of life in asthma patients A randomized controlled study

  • By Dr Shruti Agnihotri
  • May 2, 2018
  • 1282 views

Abstract

 

Background: Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory disease characterized by periodic attacks of wheezing, shortness of breath and a tight feeling in the chest. The current study is based on the effect of Yoga on quality of life in asthmatics in Northern India. Materials and Methods: A total of 300 participants of mild-to-moderate persistent asthma (FEV>60%) aged between 12 and 60 years were recruited from the Department of Pulmonary Medicine. Their quality of life was assessed with the help of mini asthma quality-of-life questionnaire (AQLQ) at baseline and then after 3rd and 6th month from baseline. Forty-five participants were dropped out during the study while 255 participants completed the study successfully. Results: In “the Yoga group,” significant improvements were found in all the subdomains of AQLQ at 3rdmonth and at 6th month in comparison to “the control group.” The number needed to treat was found to be 2.67 for the total AQLQ score which was greater than the minimal important difference. Conclusion: “The Yoga group” got significantly better improvement in asthma quality-of-life scores than “the control group.” Thus, Yoga can be used as an adjuvant therapy in the management of asthma.

 

1. Introduction

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways in which many cells play a role, including mast cells and eosinophils. In susceptible individuals, this inflammation causes symptoms which are usually associated with widespread, but variable, airflow obstruction that is often reversible either spontaneously or with treatment and causes an associated increase in airway responsiveness to a variety of stimuli.[1]

Yoga has been considered as a form of complementary and alternative medicines.[2] It is originated from a Sanskrit root “Yuj” which means union or yoke, to join and to direct and concentrate one's attention.[3] Regular practice of Yoga provides strength, endurance and flexibility and facilitates characteristics of friendliness, compassion and greater self-control while cultivating a sense of calmness and well-being.[4]Yoga is known for its beneficial effects on physiological and psychological functions and improves the quality of life of the patients.[5] Quality of life is also concerned with the asthmatic patients so that the present study is based on mild-to-moderate persistent asthma patients to know the effect of Yoga on asthma quality of life. However, the effect of Yoga on quality of life of asthmatic patients has not been studied. The present study is based on the findings of one of the aims of the larger study on bronchial asthma.

 

2. Materials and Methods

Study design and setting

It was a randomized controlled trial which was conducted in the Department of Pulmonary Medicine. Diagnosed patients of asthma were recruited for the study and randomized into two groups on the basis of computer-generated random number table using Graph Pad in stat version 3.05 software Inc., 2000 (Version. 3.05 GraphPad Software, Inc., California, USA). The patients of asthma were recruited at the time of selection irrespective to allergic status during the study. The study was approved by the Institutional Ethics Committee of the King George's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Signed informed consent was obtained from all the participants before being enrolled for the study. They were free to withdraw from the study at any stage of the study period without assigning any reason.

 

Inclusion criteria

The patients were included in the study having mild-to-moderate persistent bronchial asthma severity according to the GINA-2011, aged ranging between 12 and 60 years. They were nonsmokers or exsmokers who have not smoked for at least 6 months and reversible airflow limitation >12% and >200 mL (postbronchodilator FEV>12% and >200 mL).

Exclusion criteria

Patients were excluded with severe airflow limitation or more (FEV<60%), pregnant or lactating women, any associated chronic respiratory diseases and having major psychiatric illnesses, and current smokers.

Study participants

In this randomized controlled trial, 300 participants who satisfied the inclusion criteria were allocated into two groups: “the Yoga group” and “the control group.” Of 300 participants (150 cases and 150 controls), 25 participants from the Yoga group and 20 participants from the control group dropped out during the study. A total of 125 participants from “the Yoga group” and 130 participants from “the control group” completed the study.

Yogic intervention

Participants in “the Yoga group” received yogic intervention (Asanas, Pranayama and meditation) for 30 min per day, 5 days in a week for 6 months in the Department of Pulmonary Medicine [Table 1]. During the follow-up of the study, patients of “the Yoga group” and the “non-Yogagroup” had taken the standard medication according to the GINA guidelines (inhaled corticosteroid with LABA combination and inhaled β-2 agonist).

 

Figure 1: Yoga Module for Yoga Group 

Assessment criteria

Quality of life was measured using a self-administered mini asthma quality-of-life questionnaire (AQLQ by Elizabeth Juniper, England) which is available in bilingual form, that is, English and Hindi. Mini AQLQ is 15-item disease-specific questionnaire that has been validated to measure the problems in the patients of asthma which they experience in their daily lives. Patients responded to each question on a 7-point scale, 1 being maximum impairment while 7 being no impairment. The overall quality-of-life score is the mean score of all the 15 questions of the Mini AQLQ. The 15 questions of the questionnaire are further grouped into four subdomains (symptoms, activity limitation, emotional function and reactivity to environmental stimuli). The score for each subdomain was also calculated as the mean score for items pertaining to the related subdomain. Thus, the score may also vary from 1 to 7.
Statistical analysis

Paired t-test was used to test the mean difference score of the participants at baseline and after 3 months and 6 months in both groups, that is, Yoga and control groups. Student's independent sample t-test was used to compare the differences in scores between Yoga and non-Yogagroup. Differences were considered statistically significant if P < 0.05. The statistical analysis was done using Graph Pad In Stat version 3.05 software Inc., 2000 (Version. 3.05 Graph Pad Software, Inc., California, USA).

A change of >0.05 in the AQLQ score has been considered the minimal important difference (MID) as clinically meaningful difference.[6] Based on MID, the number needed to treat (NNT) was calculated by clinically useful measures of the consequences of treatment.[7]

 

3. Results

Asthma quality-of-life scores at baseline in “between-group comparison” are given in [Table 2]. Both groups are comparable in every respect and no significant differences were found in any subdomain of the quality of life. The values of outcome measures are given in [Table 3][Table 4][Table 5][Table 6].

 

Table 2Baselines scores of cases and controls (between group) 

Table 3: Scores of cases and controls at 3rd month (between group)

Table 4: Scores of controls and cases 6th month

Table 5: Comparison of pre- and post-asthma quality-of-life changes occurred in Yoga group and control group after 3 months

Table 6: Comparison of pre- and post-asthma quality-of-life changes occurred in Yoga group and control group after 6 months

 

“Between-group comparisons” are given in [Table 3] and [Table 4] at 3rd month and 6th month, respectively, after the intervention of Yoga to “the Yoga group.” The significant differences were found in subdomain activity limitation and emotional function score at 3rd month [Table 3] and the significant difference was found in the total quality of life with all its subdomains at 6th month. At post intervention, “between-group differences” were found highly significant with better improvements in symptom score, activity limitation score, emotional function score, response to environmental stimuli and total quality-of-life score [Table 4].
Comparison of pre- and post-asthma quality-of-life changes occurred in “the Yoga group” and “the control group” at 3rd month and 6th month, respectively, after the intervention of Yoga to “the Yoga group” are given in 
[Table 5] and [Table 6]. It was observed in pre- and post-comparison at 3rd month in “the Yoga group” that symptom score increased by 29.07% from 3.68 ± 0.91 to 4.75 ± 0.75 (P = 0.11), but it was not statistically significant. Activity limitation score was increased significantly by 42.7% from 3.56 ± 0.51 to 5.08 ± 0.30 (P = 0.02). There was a significant increase of 71.03% found in emotional function score from 3.21 ± 1.22 to 5.49 ± 0.58 (P = 0.028). Response to environmental stimuli increased significantly by 38.87% from 3.20 ± 0.40 to 4.43 ± 0.31 (P = 0.012) and total score by 49.09% from 3.45 ± 0.73 to 4.92 ± 0.62 (P< 0.0001).  
The AQLQ scores showed an improvement over the 6-month study period in both groups. However, the improvement was achieved earlier and was more complete in the Yoga group. At 3rd month, the improvement was statistically significant as compared to the baseline score in the total quality of life and its subdomains in the Yoga group except symptom scores but not in the control group.

 

Although significant improvement in total quality-of-life score was observed in both case and control groups [Table 6], but the magnitude of improvement was much more in the participants of the group that regularly practiced Yoga along with standard medication. In the Yoga group, symptom score increased significantly by 52.45% from 3.68 ± 0.91 to 5.61 ± 0.45 (P = 0.005). Activity limitation score was increased significantly by 70.51% from 3.56 ± 0.51 to 6.07 ± 0.21 (P = 0.001). There was significant increase of 78.82% in emotional function score from 3.21 ± 1.22 to 5.74 ± 0.39 (P = 0.04). Response to environmental stimuli increased significantly by 70% from 3.20 ± 0.40 to 5.44 ± 0.06 (P = 0.009) and total score by 73.33% from 3.45 ± 0.73 to 5.72 ± 0.38 (P< 0.0001). Control group also showed significant improvement in all the variables at 6th month of intervention. The symptom score and response to environmental stimuli showed a significant but small increase in both groups.

The NNT was found to be 2.67 for the total score, 4.12 for the symptom score, 3.63 for the activity limitation score, 4.13 for the emotional function score and 2.85 for the response to environmental stimuli score. It means that a minimum of 3.48 (i.e., four) participants will be needed to be treated with Yogic intervention along with standard medical treatment for one participant to have a clinically meaningful improvement in the quality of life over and above the improvement that the participant would have experienced with standard medical treatment alone.

 

4. Discussion

The results of this study suggest that both groups got significant improvement in 6-month study period compared to baseline scores but the improvement was achieved relatively earlier by “the Yoga group” in comparison to “the control group.” “Between-group differences” at 6th month were found highly significant with better improvement in symptom score, activity limitation score, emotional function score, response to environmental stimuli and total quality-of-life score.

A randomized controlled trial has shown that the practice of Sahaja Yoga does have limited beneficial effects on asthma. Sahaja Yoga is a traditional system of meditation based on Yogic principles which may be used for therapeutic purposes. Another study on Iyengar Yoga, a form of Yoga known for using props such as belts and blocks as aids in performing postures, conferred no appreciable benefit in mild-to-moderate asthma.[8]
Quality of life of asthma patients worsens due to worst asthma symptom scores. Pranayama is the flow of energy which energizes the mind and body both. In a previous study, it was found that Pranayama reduces stress, a common asthma trigger. Breathing techniques and improved control of breathing by Yoga may contribute to the control of asthma symptoms. Breathing exercises emphasized in Yoga have the potential to improve lung function and quality of life in persons with asthma.[9],[10]

Regular practice of Yoga is good to achieve complete health. It provides relaxation of mind, energizes the body and improves the quality of life of the asthmatic patients. Effectiveness of relaxation therapy has been studied in a group of asthmatics; they found mental relaxation to be more effective than muscular relaxation in the improvement of pulmonary function and subjective measures.[11] The Yogic practices including Pranayama on asthmatic patients reported a significant degree of relaxation, positive attitude toward asthma and exercise tolerance. The study also showed a tendency toward lesser usage of beta-adrenergic inhalers.[12]
In a randomized controlled trial, there was a significant improvement found in AQLQ scores in both groups, but the improvement was more in Yoga group.[13] It supports our findings, but it was a short-term study and small number of patients being studied. However, probably, none of the study has shown the effect of Yoga on quality of life in asthma patients in India as done in the current study.

 

5. Conclusion

The current study shows that the Yogic intervention improved the status of quality of life. All the subdomains of quality of life including total scores significantly increased in both groups but the Yoga group in comparison to the control group achieved the improvement relatively earlier. Overall, this study shows that Yoga is an effective tool to improve the quality of life and it can be practiced as an adjuvant therapy to standard medical treatment for a better outcome of asthma.

Suggestions for future work

Due to the small number of controlled trials and due to the small number of patients studied, it is not possible to make firm judgments regarding the long-term efficacy of using Yoga to control asthma attacks. It is recommended that to more carefully construct randomized controlled trials using strict methodological quality be required to allow generalized conclusions.

 

Financial support and sponsorship

The study was supported by ICMR, New Delhi.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

References

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About Authors: Shruti Agnihotri1Surya Kant1Satyendra Kumar Mishra2Ajay Verma1
1 Department of Pulmonary Medicine, King George's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh,  India. 2 Department of Social Work, Institute of Naturopathic and Yogic Sciences, Lucknow University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.

 

Article available online/offline on: AYU, Vol. 38, Issue 1-2, Jan-June 2017, Page no.28-32, for more details please visit: www.ayujournal.org

 

Address for correspondence: Dr. Shruti Agnihotri, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, King George's Medical University, Lucknow - 226 003, Uttar Pradesh. India

 

No part of this article may be reproduced in full or part without written permission of the Ayu Journal who can be contacted at ayujournal@yahoo.com

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