Listed in Issue 113


MIDDLEKAUFF, University of California – Los Angeles School of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA, has reviewed (19 references) acupuncture in the treatment of heart failure. Abstract: Not many studies have been carried out that evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture in heart failure. The existing ones have focussed on the acupoint Neiguan (P6) and have reported either an increase in ventricular contractility, sometimes accompanied by relaxation, or no effect on ventricular contractility, again with or without relaxation. Difficulties with existing studies have included small sample sizes, inadequate controls, and lack of blinded design. Recent studies of acupuncture in animal models support the idea that acupuncture leads to a release of endogenous opioids in the central nervous system. This in turn is thought to reduce the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Patients with heart failure have markedly elevated sympathetic activity, and those with the greatest sympathetic activity have the worst chances of survival. Preliminary data suggest that acupuncture could have a depressing effect on the sympathetic activity in heart failure. The researchers have found that sympathetic activity during mental stress was virtually eliminated after acupuncture. It appears that more studies of acupuncture as a treatment to reduce sympathetic activity are necessary.






Middlekauff HR. Acupuncture in the treatment of heart failure. Cardiology Review 12 (3): 171-173, May-Jun 2004.

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