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Yoga Could Aid Pulmonary Rehabilitation in Patients With LAM, Study Finds

Gianna Melillo
Yoga may be used as a safe intervention for pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), according to a study published in the Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases. The exercise could also potentially improve patients’ exercise capacity.
Yoga may be used as a safe intervention for pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), according to a study published in the Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases. The exercise could also potentially improve patients’ exercise capacity.  

LAM is a rare disease that occurs exclusively in young women. Typically, women contract the disease between age 20 and 40 years. It is characterized by diffuse pulmonary cystic changes and symptoms can include progressive dyspnea, hypoxia, recurrent pneumothorax, and chylothorax. Although sirolimus (rapamycin) can be used to slow the disease’s progression, many patients complain of reduced exercise capacity due to airflow obstruction and other intrusive symptoms.

In this nonrandomized, controlled study, 11 patients completed a yoga intervention and 13 additional patients made up the control group. “The yoga intervention involved a 24-week program of yoga class training for 90 min once a week and no fewer than 2 at-home sessions per week (at least 15 min per session).” According to researchers, the trial was nonrandomized due to the rarity of the disease and geographical issues.

To compare the cohorts, researchers measured 6-minute walking distance (6MWD), lung function, and quality of life at baseline, 12-week, and 24-week follow-up. Serum vascular endothelial growth factor-D (VEGF-D) levels and symptoms of anxiety and depression were also recorded.

Patients who completed the yoga intervention exhibited the following improvements at the 24-week mark, compared with the control cohort:
  • 6MWD (+ 55 ± 29 m vs + 18 ± 49 m; P = .04)
  • Anaerobic threshold (AT) (3.4 ± 2.4 mL/min/kg vs 1.6 ± 1.4 mL/min/kg; P = .035)
  • Peak workload (W) (11.7 ± 14.6 W vs 0.2 ± 9.1 W; P = .027) 
However, the study found no significant difference in peak oxygen consumption, lung function, VEGF-D level, and quality of life between the 2 groups.

“Our findings demonstrated that yoga training may improve the functional exercise capacity in patients with LAM. Despite their frailty, patients diagnosed with LAM were able to safely perform yoga,” researches concluded. “Moreover, we suggest that yoga could be a useful adjunct pulmonary rehabilitation program for LAM patients.” Researchers also found no adverse events resulting from the yoga intervention.

Because of the small sample size and relatively brief intervention period, researchers feel that large-scale trials with extended follow-up periods may be needed to better evaluate the long-term effects of yoga in patients with LAM.

Reference

Li X, Xu W, Zhang L, et al. Effects of yoga on exercise capacity in patients with lymphangioleiomyomatosis: a nonrandomized controlled study [published online March 16, 2020]. Orphanet J Rare Dis. doi: 10.1186/s13023-020-1344-6.

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