Yoga Exercise Program for Pulmonary Hypertension Patients

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DETROIT — A first-of-its-kind yoga exercise program has been developed by Henry Ford Hospital for patients living with pulmonary hypertension, a chronic lung disease that afflicts women at least two times more than men.

Called Yoga for PH, the 40-minute program includes three yoga exercise levels and a nutrition and lifestyle discussion. It is available for free download on iTunes and Googleplay.

The program was developed by Henry Ford pulmonologist Rana Awdish, M.D., a 20-year yoga practitioner.

Henry Ford Hospital is among the largest referral centers for pulmonary hypertension in the United States, and is one of only two hospitals in Michigan that offer pulmonary and critical care medicine fellowship programs. The hospital has an intensive care unit dedicated to the care of pulmonary hypertension patients, with specially-trained nurses who are experts in managing the complex needs of these patients.

Dr. Awdish says the idea for a yoga exercise program was borne from requests from patients. It was funded by a grant from the Pulmonary Hypertension Association.

Pulmonary hypertension, or PH, is high blood pressure in the lungs. The blood vessels in the lungs become narrowed and the heart has to work harder to pump blood through them. It typically develops between the ages of 20 and 60. Common symptoms are shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain and a racing heartbeat. As PH worsens, symptoms may limit physical activity.

While PH has no cure, the earlier the disease is treated, the better the outcomes are for patients. Treatment options to relieve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease include medication, surgical procedures and lifestyle changes. “With proper medication,” Dr. Awdish says, “patients can live a long and healthy life.”

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