Published on 06-22-2010
Acupuncture has a broad range of effects that go far beyond the treatment of pain. Acupuncture points can effect internal organs, hormones, brain chemistry, mood, stamina and all other aspects of our bodies. Researchers from the University of Heidelberg recently looked at the use of acupuncture in improving exercise tolerance in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). Patients with CHF need a variety of medical interventions and western medicine has very advanced medications and tools which provide great benefit to many serious conditions such as this. It is crucial, however, to aid CHF patients on a psychological level (fear, depression, etc.) as well as to allow them to regain some activity which serves to gently strengthen their heart.
This study looked at improvements in cardiac function, heart rate variability and quality of life - all of which are important markers of healing. This was a placebo acupuncture controlled study, which are always interesting, and they found clear differences between "true" acupuncture and the placebo acupuncture techniques. The study found improvements in all cardiopulmonary functions including quality of life except cardiac ejection fraction and peak oxygen uptake. Most notably there were remarkable changes in the 6 min walk distance within the "true" acupuncture group.
From clinical experience cardiac muscle improvement and other factors may improve over longer periods of time, but further studies would have to be done to both attempt and examine this aspect. The study well illustrates the usefulness of acupuncture with western standard of care for CHF patients.
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