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Research: Heart and circulatory disorders


In the West, diseases of the circulatory system are not commonly treated with acupuncture, but in China it is a common and acceptable form of treatment for some of these problems. A variety of animal experiments carried out in the West give clear support to the idea that acupuncture does have an effect on the circulatory system.




Angina (Acupuncture)

Angina is a type of 'cramp' in the heart muscles, precipitated by a poor blood supply to the heart, and it usually exhibits itself as chest pain on exercise. Using sophisticated measuring equipment the Chinese have completed a variety of trials to assess the effects of acupuncture on the heart, and they have shown a marked increase in the functional ability and efficiency of the heart muscles after acupuncture.
This is further supported by clinical work, which shows that some 80 per cent of patients with angina have improved after acupuncture. When acupuncture is used to treat angina a course of treatments is given, and then followed by booster treatments every four to six months.

Effect of acupuncture in patients with angina pectoris

Abstract: Twenty-one patients with stable effort angina pectoris were randomized in a crossover study to 4 weeks traditional Chinese acupuncture or placebo tablet treatment. The patients had at least five anginal attacks per week in spite of intensive treatment. Acupuncture was given three times per week at main points Neiguan (Pericardium 6), Tongli (Heart 5), Xinshu (Urinary Bladder 15), Pishu (Urinary Bladder 20) and Zusanli (Stomach 36). Previous antianginal treatment remained unchanged during the whole study. During the acupuncture period, the number of anginal attacks per week was reduced from 10.6 to 6.1 compared with placebo (p less than 0.01). Accordingly, the performance before onset of pain during exercise test increased from 82 W to 94 W (P less than 0.05). However, maximal performance did not increase after acupuncture. Intensity of pain at maximal workload decreased from 1.4 to 0.8 (scale 0-4, P less than 0.01). Further, ST-segment depressions at maximal comparable load decreased from 1.03 to 0.71 mm after acupuncture (P less than 0.01). A life quality questionnaire confirmed improved feeling of well-being. Thus, acupuncture showed an additional beneficial effect in patients with severe, intensively treated angina pectoris.

By Richter A; Herlitz J; Hjalmarson A. European Heart Journal, 1991 Feb, 12(2):175-8. (UI: 91257019) Pub type: Clinical Trial; Journal Article; Randomized Controlled Trial. AT: UCLA Biomed W1 EU718 (PE title: European heart journal.)

Metrological analysis for efficacy of acupuncture on angina pectoris

Abstract: Acupuncture (Acupoints: Neiguan P6, Shenmen H7, Shaohai H3 or auriculo-points: Heart, Shenmen) was administrated once or 7 times in a week on 40 patients with stable type of angina pectoris. The effect was assessed quantitatively or semi-quantitatively according to the extent, area, frequency, duration of attack, the time of attack during exercise, and the vanishing of suffering after exercise. Just after one performance of acupuncture, 15 patients' angina pectoris were significantly alleviated (P < 0.001) both in degree and area. After 7 times of acupuncture 10 patients' angina pectoris were not only significantly alleviated both in extent and area, but also in frequency and duration of attack. 15 patients were randomized to an acupuncture, non-acupuncture or acupuncture at non-acupoints (ANA) in a single blind design. The time from the beginning of exercise to the anginal attack in active acupuncture group was longer than that in non-acupuncture or ANA group (P < 0.01), but they were similar (P > 0.05) in both non-acupuncture group and ANA group. The time from the end of exercise to the disappearance of angina pectoris in acupuncture group was shorter than that in the other two groups (P < 0.05).

Zhou XP; Liu JX. Chung-Kuo Chung Hsi i Chieh Ho Tsa Chih, 1993 Apr, 13(4):212-4, Language: Chinese. (UI: 94003892) Pub type: Clinical Trial; Journal Article; Randomized Controlled Trial.

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The Correction of Abnormal Heart Rhythms (Acupuncture)

Heart diseases can frequently cause an abnormal rhythm to the heart beat; this may manifest itself as palpitations, an irregular heart beat, or dropped beats. Acupuncture can correct a small number of these arrhythmias. In established atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beats), acupuncture affects a small percentage of cases, some 1.5 per cent, although in recently acquired arrhythmias, acupuncture can be effective in up to 70 per cent of cases.

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Raised Blood Pressure (Acupuncture)

Traditional Chinese medicine does not recognize raised blood pressure (hypertension) as a disease, and acupuncture treatment has therefore centred around the relief of the infrequent and vague symptoms associated with raised blood pressure, such a headaches and dizziness. In Western medical circles there is great debate about whether raised blood pressure should be treated as aggressively as it has been in the past. Acupuncture and moxibustion can lower the blood pressure, but there is no good work available to show how useful this is on a long or short-term basis. At present, the whole concept of raised blood pressure and its treatment is unclear, and the place of acupuncture in the treatment of this problem is unknown.

BBC website: Research acupuncture

Positive findings and scientific research confirming the effectiveness of acupuncture taken from BBC news website: High blood pressure

Acupuncture: other therapies should be presented as treatment options to hypertensives

Non-drug therapies are vital in preventing and treating hypertension. The successive reports of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of Hypertension, WHO scientific report on primary prevention of essential hypertension and national High Blood Pressure Education Program's working groups report on primary prevention of hypertension have stressed on non-drug therapies. Today busy family physicians do not spend enough time explaining to the patient various dietary and lifestyle modifications but straightaway prescribes medication.

Every patient of hypertension from the stage of pre-hypertension to grade 2 hypertension should follow non-drug therapy. If non-drug therapy is strictly adhered, one can prevent cases of pre-hypertension from progressing to hypertension stage and one can reduce or stop the medications in Grade I (mild) hypertension. We have discussed the role of low salt, high potassium diet, role of caffeine intake, calcium and magnesium supplements, fish oil intake, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, role of physical exercise, stress reduction and bio-feedback, yoga, meditation and acupuncture. These recommendations regarding diet and lifestyle modifications should be targeted to population at large through public health authorities, non-government organizations and news media.

Sainani, G.S. Non-drug therapy in prevention and control of hypertension. The Journal of the Association of Physicians of India 51: 1001-6.

Acupuncture for treatment of vascular hypertension

Abstract: The immediate, short-term and long-term depressor effects, the immediate effects on cardiac functions in grade II and grade III vascular hypertension, and the effects on angiotensin II in grade III vascular hypertension by acupuncture at otoacupoint Heart were studied in 30 cases of vascular hypertensive patients. The immediate depressor effect of acupuncture at otoacupoint Stomach was also recorded for comparison.

It was found that acupuncture at otoacupoint Heart produced marked immediate depressor effect, and the short-term effective rate was 100, the long-term effective rate was 63.3%, as well as evident immediate effects on cardiac functional activities in grade II and grade III hypertension and marked effects on angiotensin II in grade TII hypertension. Acupuncture at otoacupoint Stomach produced no depressor effect on vascular hypertension.

Huang H; Liang S. Acupuncture at otoacupoint heart for treatment of vascular hypertension. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1992 Jun, 12(2):133-6. (UI: 92356669) AT: UCLA Biomed W1 J0922R (PE title: Journal of traditional Chinese medicine = Chung i tsa chih / sponsored by A11-china Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine.)

Effect of acupuncture-point stimulation on diastolic blood pressure in hypertensive subjects

Abstract: Electrical stimulation of four specific acupuncture points (Liver 3, Stomach 36, Large Intestine 11, and the Groove behind the ear for Lowering Blood Pressure) was examined in order to determine the effect of this stimulation on diastolic blood pressure in 10 subjects with diastolic hypertension. Subjects were randomly divided into two groups: (1) an Acu-ES group, which received electrical stimulation applied to the four antihypertensive acupuncture points, and (2) a Sham-ES group, which received electrical stimulation applied to non-acupuncture-point areas.

A repeated-measures analysis of variance revealed a significant, immediate poststimulation reduction of diastolic blood pressure for the Acu-Es group versus the Sham-ES group.

Further studies are needed to determine whether there are other acupuncture points, stimulation characteristics, or modalities that can enhance this treatment effect and whether the treatment effect can last for a clinically significant period of time.

By Williams T; Mueller K; Cornwall MW. Physical Therapy, 1991 Jul, 71(7):523-9.
(UI: 91271437) AT- UCLA Biomed W1 PH793 (PE title: Physical therapy.)

Treatment of 318 cases of hypertension

Bai Hui (GV 20) is the sea of yang and Zu San Li (St 36) is an important point for strengthening the body. In recent years the author has used moxibustion at these points to treat 318 cases of hypertension and the results have been satisfactory. The results are summarized below.

Clinical data: Of the 318 cases, 66 cases had suffered from hypertension for 1 year, 183 cases had suffered from hypertension for 1-5 years, 39 cases had suffered from hypertension for 6-10 years, and 30 cases had suffered from hypertension for more than 10 years. Two hundred twelve cases suffered from type II hypertension, while 106 cases suffered from type III hypertension. Thirty-six cases concurrently suffered from coronary disease, 23 cases suffered from cerebral arteriosclerosis, 17 cases suffered from hemiplegia, and 8 cases suffered from diabetes.

Therapeutic methods and outcomes: According to The Systematic Classic (Jia Yi Jing), Bai Hui is located 1 cun and 5 fen posterior to Qian Ding (GV 19) in a depression at the vertex. It may be located directly above the tips of the auricles. In hypertension, Bai Hui will be painful, and, if it is not, the point is not Bai Hui. One first moxas Bai Hui (GV 20) and then applies moxibustion bilaterally to Zu San Li (S 36). The moxa stick is held some distance from the point and brought nearer until the patient feels a burning sensation. The moxa stick is held far enough from the skin so that the patient can bear the heat and is then removed. This process is repeated 10 times to constitute a daily treatment. Blood pressures were invariably lowered immediately after treatment. In 231 cases (72.6%), blood pressures normalized within a week. In 60 cases (18.9%), blood pressures normalized within two weeks. In 27 cases (8.5%), there was no improvement in blood pressure after two weeks. There was an overall amelioration rate of 91.5% Discussion: Bai Hui functions to upbear the clear and downbear the turbid, extinguish wind and boost the marrow. Zu San Li is a key point for strengthening the body. Thus, moxibustion at Bai Hui and Zu San Li upbears clear yang and downbears turbid yang, extinguishes wind and boosts the marrow, lowers the blood pressure and strengthens the body when treated by moxibustion.

By Chen Quan, translated by Charles Chace [From The Journal of Chinese Medicine (Zhong Yi Za Zhi), Vol 34, #10, 1993]

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