The European Society of Cardiology’s EuroHeart Care conference also heard that more than 50pc of patients attending a heart clinic were using some form of complementary or alternative therapy.
Reflexology, acupuncture, osteopathy, massage and chiropractic therapies were the top five most popular among the group.
Two thirds of those attending the clinic believed that alternative therapies should be available within the national health service.
Studies presented to the conference found that both Yoga and Acupressure reduced the heart rate in patients with the irregular beat problem.
“Furthermore both approaches have the advantage of being easy to administer and cost effective with no serious side effects” said Prof Ozlem Ceyham, a nurse trainer from Ercives University in Tokyo.
In one Yoga study Maria Nilsson a nurse from Danderyd Hospital in Stockholm, who has practised yoga for 10 years, found that patients in the yoga group showed significant drops in blood pressure and heart rate.
“We chose to use medical yoga, which is a form of yoga involving deep breathing, light movements, meditation and relaxation”, she explained.
“The advantage here is that the movements are easy to learn and can be performed while sitting in a chair.”
In the second study Prof Ceyhan looked at using acupressure for patients hospitalised for persistent irregular heartbeat.
Treatments were performed between two and four times a day, with pulse and blood pressure readings taken before, during and after the session, and information on fatigue collected via patient questionnaires.
The results showed t significant decreases in pulse rate, systolic and diastolic blood in the acupressure group.
More than half of those attending a heart outpatients clinic used complementary and alternative therapies, a third study revealed.
Prof Stephen Leslie and Dr Jenny Jones from the University of Stirling in Scotland found that two thirds of those attending the clinic believed that alternative therapies should be available within the national health service and 88pc believed that more research was needed in these areas.
“When we looked back at patient notes, we found that very few people had volunteered this clinically important information in consultations, suggesting that they don’t often disclose complementary and alternative therapy use to cardiology teams,” said Prof Leslie.
Information about complementary and alternative medicines use, she stressed, was important.
“Popular herbal remedies, such as Ginger, Ginko biloba, Ginseng and St John’s wort have been shown to affect platelet aggregation, prolong bleeding time, and increase or decrease INR in patients on warfarin.
“Additionally it is known that extracts of Hawthorne, which are recommended for patients with heart failure and arrhythmia, have digoxin like effects, with the potential to interact with digoxin.
“In light of the potential for adverse interactions we believe that clinicians should routinely ask all their patients whether they use any forms of CATs or CAMs,” said Dr Jones.
The survey, she added, highlighted the fact that cardiac patients would like to see further research carried out to assess the risks and benefits of compelentary and alternative medicine in relation to cardiovascular disease.
This would enable the balance between risks, benefits and efficacy to be honestly discussed with cardiac patients.