Tai Chi helps heart-attack victims

LONDON, June 12, 1996 (Reuter) -- Ancient Chinese Tai Chi exercises could help heart-attack victims recover faster, British scientists reported on Wednesday.

Practicing the slow, deliberate Tai Chi movements and breathing patterns lowered blood pressure and, in some cases, slowed the heart rate, researchers at Sheffield University said.

They tested 126 hear-attack patients, having them practice Tai Chi, go through aerobic exercises to temporarily raise heart rate and breathing, or perform no additional exercise.

"Both forms of exercise reduced blood pressure, but only Tai Chi showed a significant reduction," the British Medical Association's Postgraduate Medical Journal, which published the study, said in a statement.

The researchers said exercise was very important in helping heart-attack patients to recover but not all felt strong enough to do much.

The gentle, graceful movements of Tai Chi, which stress balance and coordination, could be just the trick, they said.