Acupuncture can benefit patients with arrhythmia
The heart expands and contracts 100,000 times each day, pumping about 2,000 gallons of blood in the process. However, for people who suffer from abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia), these values could either go up or down. This is usually caused by erratic electrical impulses which stem from the presence of injuries or problems in the heart. But recent studies suggest that acupuncture may help with this problem. In a study published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, researchers from China looked at the effects of acupuncture on different types of arrhythmia and compared them with the effects of drugs commonly used to treat this condition. They performed their analysis by pooling data from several studies which reported the use and benefits of acupuncture in 797 patients.
Acupuncture is just as effective as antiarrhythmic drugs
After searching several databases, the researchers identified 13 different trials that evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture based on improvements seen in patients with paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT), ventricular premature beat (VPB), and sinus tachycardia (ST). These included the reduction in heart rate and the restoration of normal sinus rhythm. PSVT refers to episodes of rapid heart rate, while VPB refers to an extra heartbeat due to abnormal electrical activation in the ventricles. ST refers to consistently elevated heart rate.
When the researchers compared the results of acupuncture treatment with those of conventional drug therapy in patients with PSVT, acupuncture proved to be just as effective as antiarrhythmic drugs. When they looked at patients with VPB, acupuncture enhanced the positive effects of conventional drug treatment. The patients benefited more from treatment when medication was used together with acupuncture. Patients with ST also found improvement from acupuncture treatment compared with patients who were either not taking any drugs or were subjected to sham acupuncture. Based on this meta-analysis, it can be concluded that acupuncture has significant potential in treating PSVT and that acupuncture can enhance treatment of VPB and ST with antiarrhythmic drugs.
Acupuncture is a healing technique based on anatomic stimulation. In ancient Chinese medicine, health is considered to be the product of a balance between yin and yang, two opposing forces that are controlled by the continuous flow of energy. When the flow of energy is disrupted, the body is thrown into disarray, and the person becomes ill. Acupuncture helps treat the illness by restoring functions which trigger the body’s natural healing process. This is achieved by stimulating specific sites called acupuncture points using needles. Stimulation of acupuncture points enables the energy to flow again. Today, acupuncture is known to affect various systems in our body such as the nervous system, the endocrine and immune systems, the cardiovascular system, and the digestive system. Hence it is commonly used to relieve stress and pain as well as improve sleep and digestion.
Several studies suggest that acupuncture is useful for patients who suffer from heart problems. A review of clinical trials showed that it can improve the response of the cardiovascular system in patients with cardiovascular disease. Patients who have hypertension also reported significant benefits from acupuncture treatment, such as lower blood pressure and relief from other symptoms. Another study found acupuncture to be good for critically ill heart failure patients as it reduced sympathetic nerve activation. People who have heart failure have very high sympathetic nerve activity because their hearts work too hard to pump blood. Reducing this activity, therefore, can lift some of the pressure off the heart and relieve some of its burden.
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