People living with HIV infection are at increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). Safe and effective interventions for lowering CVD risk in HIV infection are high priorities. We conducted a prospective, randomized, controlled study to evaluate whether a yoga lifestyle intervention improves CVD risk factors, virological or immunological status, or quality of life (QOL) in HIV-infected adults relative to standard of care treatment in a matched control group.
Sixty HIV-infected adults with mild–moderate CVD risk were assigned to 20 weeks of supervised yoga practice or standard of care treatment. Baseline and week 20 measures were: 2-h oral glucose tolerance test with insulin monitoring, body composition, fasting serum lipid/lipoprotein profile, resting blood pressures, CD4 T-cell count and plasma HIV RNA, and the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form (SF)-36 health-related QOL inventory.
Resting systolic and diastolic blood pressures improved more (P=0.04) in the yoga group (−5 ± 2 and −3 ± 1 mmHg, respectively) than in the standard of care group (+1 ± 2 and+2 ± 2 mmHg, respectively). However, there was no greater reduction in body weight, fat mass or proatherogenic lipids, or improvements in glucose tolerance or overall QOL after yoga. Immune and virological status was not adversely affected.
Among traditional lifestyle modifications, yoga is a low-cost, simple to administer, nonpharmacological, popular behavioural intervention that can lower blood pressure in pre-hypertensive HIV-infected adults with mild–moderate CVD risk factors.