Arrhythmias and heart failure, what are they?
Arrhythmia is the medical term used to describe an abnormal heart rhythm. The heart can beat too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia) or irregularly. There are different types of arrhythmias, some are harmless while other can be life threatening.
Slow heart beat:
When one experiences bradycardia, they can feel fatigue, dizziness, fainting or light-headedness. This happens because not enough blood is reaching the brain. Conditions such as heart attacks, under active thyroid, imbalance of chemicals or ions in the blood, medication and aging can all be causes for a slow heart rate.
People who are very fit and who train a lot can have a slow heart beat and this is perfectly normal.
Fast heart beat:
When the heart beats too fast, a wide range of symptoms can be felt such as palpitations, dizziness, light-headedness, fainting. Fainting happens when the heart is beating so fast that it cannot pump the blood anymore and in certain situations, it can be a medical emergency.
There are different conditions associated to tachycardia such as premature beats, atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter. Other conditions such as paroxysmal supra ventricular tachycardia or ventricular tachycardia can be life threatening.
How can acupuncture help?
Research tends to demonstrate that acupuncture for arrhythmia and heart failure is as efficient than medication in the treatment of arrhythmias and that it can significantly reduce associated symptoms and the arrhythmia itself. Acupuncture can be combined to a conventional treatment safely and it is very beneficial as well.
Acupuncture can also be effective in the treatment of heart failure. One study showed that acupuncture associated with conventional treatments improved exercise tolerance with patient suffering of chronic heart failure.
Here are some of the benefits of acupuncture:
- Minimises cardiac injury
- Regulates the chemicals involved in the development of heart [pathologies such as hypertrophy
- Reduces tachycardia
- Regulates the autonomic nervous system that that controls the heart rate
- Reduces inflammation
- Promotes relaxation
- Reduces sensitivity to pain and stress
Sources: BAcC factsheet (arrhythmias and heart failure)
Case from the clinic:
In 2013, my mentor, Dr. Wang JuYi, acupuncturist of international status, came to Dublin to deliver a couple of seminars. On this occasion, Dr. Wang treated a few patients and amongst them was one of my friend’s father. He was in 70’s and had had bowel surgery the month preceding the session. The surgery had left him weak and confused with an agitated mind and severe arrhythmia.
When taking his pulse, Dr. Wang found out that the patient’s pulse was slow and irregular irregular. Irregular irregular means that his pulse was irregular and the irregularity was random. The patient had severe arrhythmia. On further examination, Dr. Wang discovered that the Heart channel was affected and presenting a lot of changes. A simple treatment consisting in using the point Heart 7 (Shen men) and the point Kidney 3 (Taixi) was then chosen. I met the patient again 3 weeks later. Remarkably, his pulse was normal again and I could not find any signs of irregularity. He was far less agitated too. He reported that straight after the treatment with Dr. Wang, the arrhythmia and mind agitation had significantly diminished.