Acupuncture for Heart Failure
I have become very interested in heart disease and heart failure as I finish up a semester taking a CardioMetabolic course at MUIH. Recent statistics indicate that heart disease is the 2nd cause of death, with cancer being #1.
According to Chinese medicine, the underlying root mechanism of heart failure is due to “vacuity”. “In other words, if, for any reason, the qi becomes too vacuous and weak to control the normal movement and transportation of blood and fluids, these may become static and accumulate, thus producing the main symptoms of this condition.” (Flaws, 2002). According to Flaws, 2002:
If the qi moves, the blood moves; if it stops, the blood stops. In addition, the blood and fluids move together. This means that failure in the circulation of one can cause or aggravate failure in the circulation of the other. Therefore, if for any reason the qi becomes too weak to move the blood and/or body fluids, it may lead to blood stasis and fluid or water accumulation. In addition, the heart and lung qi together form the ancestral or so-called chest qi
I am not an expert in Chinese medicine, so I searched for interpretation in vocabulary I am familiar with. In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being (British Acupuncture Council). According to the article by the British Acupuncture Council, acupuncture can benefit arrhythmia and heart failure by:
Minimizing myocardial injury by reducing serum cardiac troponin and CRP
Regulating certain signaling pathways that are involved in cardiovascular pathogenesis such as cardiac hypertrophy
Reducing plasma levels of adrenaline, noradrenaline and vasoactive intestinal peptide thus suppressing tachycardia
Regulating the autonomic nervous system and thus heart and rhythm patterns
Mediating heart rate variability (potentially increasing it to healthier levels)
Affecting activation of the brain cortex and thus heart function
Acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, promoting relaxation and deactivating parts of brain responsible for anxiety and worry
Reducing inflammation by promoting vascular and immunomodulatory factors
A study in 1998 compared the results of acupuncture and ACE inhibitor captotril. The results of this study demonstrated that 6.6% of the acupuncture compared to 2.5% of the ACE inhibitor group and 60% of the acupuncture group experienced a marked effect compared to 42.5% of the ACE inhibitor group. Both groups experienced a marked positive improvement in their main symptoms from before to after treatment.
I personally love acupuncture and have used it often particularly in my early healing days from IC!
British Acupuncture Council. (n.d.) About arrhythmias and heart failure. Retrieved from https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/4008-arrhytmias-and-heart-failure.html (Links to an external site.)
Flaws, Bob. (2002, January) Chinese Medicine & Congestive Heart Failure. Retrieved from http://acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=27899