Atrial Fibrillation and Acupuncture
Atrial fibrillation is a condition where you have a rapid heartbeat. There is a lack of coordination in the beating of the heart in the atria and ventricle. A patient experiencing atrial fibrillation feels shortness of breath, weakness, fainting and heart palpitations. Atrial fibrillation is dangerous because it causes the formation of blood clots in the cardiovascular system which could lead to other medical emergencies: heart failure, neuropathy, kidney failure, stroke, or other complications. Sometimes patients having atrial fibrillation may not have any symptoms. Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation will come and go and stop on its own. Persistent and long-standing atrial fibrillation will need outside intervention to restore the rhythm. Permanent atrial fibrillation needs medications combined with alternate means of treatment such as acupuncture.
Causes of Atrial Fibrillation
It is the upper chambers of the heart or the atria that start to experience chaotic electrical signals that lead to the heart beating at a rate of 100 to 175 beats per minute. Atrial fibrillation may be due to congenital heart defects, high blood pressure, thyroid dysfunction, coronary artery disease, stress, sleep apnea, or rheumatic fever. The chances of getting atrial fibrillation increases as you grow older or have previous heart problems, especially women after their menopause. Obesity and alcoholism could also make you susceptible to atrial fibrillation. Acupuncture tries to restore the balance in the flow of energy through the body and treats atrial fibrillation by restoring the balance of the nervous system and hormones, so your heart function can be improved, especially when a person has no structural changes in their heart. Insomnia can lead to AF because your nervous system will be out of balance when you do not have sufficient sleep.
Controlling Atrial Fibrillation with Different Treatment Methods
Treatment for atrial fibrillation includes an ECG and Holter monitor to analyze the heart rhythms. Blood tests, echocardiogram, TMT, and chest x-rays are other investigations that could be undertaken to evaluate what are the real causes of atrial fibrillation. Preventative methods of treating atrial fibrillation include eating a heart-healthy diet, avoiding smoking, too much coffee and drinking, being more active and fit, learning to handle stress, having deep 6 to 8-hour sleep, not being obese or overweight. Treatment is aimed at restoring the sinus rhythm of the heart so that no blood clots are formed and there is no chance of a stroke. Acupuncture treatment involves the insertion of sterile needles into specific acupuncture points, such as PC6, Ht6, and SP4. This is a minimally invasive procedure which is successful in preventing the patient from going back into arrhythmia once a cardioversion procedure has been done.
The Role of Acupuncture in Treating Atrial Fibrillation
Acupuncture for atrial fibrillation has been shown in studies to result in the reduction of palpitation, dyspnea, and chest discomfort. This, in turn, has helped patients to maintain some control over their atrial fibrillation. Acupuncture, when used in conjunction with Western medicine to treat atrial fibrillation, has been found to be really effective. Boston Acupuncture practitioners also use Chinese herbal medicines and breathing exercise with quite a bit of success. The advantage of using acupuncture as an adjunctive treatment is that it prevents the need to have more invasive procedures. Patients are able to reduce the medicines they need to take and are able to lead a reasonable quality of life.
Boston Chinese Acupuncturist has accumulated many successful stories to help patients restore a regular heartbeat and stop using blood thinner and avoid using a pacemaker. If you would like to know more about the successful cases, please go to www.bostonchineseacupuncture.org to see how acupuncture can make 80 or 90 years old have stronger heart beats without a pacemaker.
Mr. Finn came to Boston Chinese Acupuncture Clinic for his knee pain when he turned 84 years old. He was born in Wellesley from a German family with very strict work ethics. He went to a private High School in Dover, and then joined the American Air Force, when he was 18 years old. In the Air Force, he was trained to sit and stand to have a very good posture. For the past 5 years, he never complained about any back pain. He is 6’4’’ and has not lost one inch, on the other hand, his wife lost 4 inches with a height of 5”2”. After he left the Air Force, he worked as a mechanical engineer in Dedham for a big company. He enjoyed 2 to 3 cups of coffee during the day to stimulate his creative thinking. He had been pretty healthy until he reached 78 years old. His right knee started bothering him when he went up and down stairs at his Needham home. His heart rate becomes irregular and sometimes can reach 120. Following the standard protocol in Newton Wellesley Hospital, he started beta blocker which only slows down the heart beats slightly, and then he started with blood thinner.
When he first came for his right knee pain in the Needham clinic, he already started the beta blocker and blood thinner for his atrial fibrillation for two years. He told me his cardiologist said there is no connection between atrial fibrillation and too much caffeine. I told him I treated so many people with AF. The routine treatments are a beta blocker, a blood thinner, then a Pacemaker. If he does not want to have a Pacemaker, he needs to modify his lifestyle or he can continue with his way and get a Pacemaker within two years. With a high dosage of beta blocker and blood thinner, his hands became so swollen and cold. He has to get cortisone shots to relieve the hand pain. I told him that his body changes every year. If he does not change his diet, he will have more illnesses. We cannot choose how long we can live, but we can make sure we do not suffer and live a healthier and happier life if we are willing to change gradually. He had been a disciplined soldier for so many years; he decided to change his habit at the age of 85 because, with the beta blocker and his blood thinner, his heart beats are still irregular. He cut back the coffee to 1 cup of decaffeinated coffee. The acupuncturist in the Boston Clinic used a group of points to strengthen his parasympathetic nervous system and bring the energy to his heart. After a few months, his heart beats become much slower and regular, he asked the cardiologist to stop his blood thinner because both his hands were so cold that he developed arthritis in his index finger. His cardiologist was amazed by his changes and told him he is the only person who started the blood thinner and then stopped it, in his past 20 years of clinical practice. Mr. Finn continues with his acupuncture treatment for his knee and AF every two weeks. After another year, his heart beats become so slow that he has to cut down his beta blocker to half of the original dosage because his blood pressure and heart rate would be too low if he continued with his high dosage of beta blocker. His acupuncturists in Needham noticed that his hand swelling has been much better once he switched to a low dosage of beta blocker. He was able to use his golf club and continue to play golf with his partner in Westwood golf court. Another two years have passed, and Mr. Finn has no knee pain but is feeling tired because the blood pressure medication sometimes makes the blood pressure too low. His acupuncturist told him to take a nap during the day, so he can improve the circulation to his heart and hands. He said he has been too busy to lie down. Unfortunately, his golf partner died two years ago and he has not played golf for two years. His knee pain is gone as a result of acupuncture treatment once a month for the past 3 years. He will be 90 years old soon, with strong and regular heartbeats. He may need to talk to the cardiologist again to lower the beta blocker dosage so that he will not have heart beats around 47 all the time.
Heart irregularities and palpitations
Hypotension (low blood pressure)
Low blood pressure is a problem that affects many people. Low blood pressure is caused by many factors. Adrenal fatigue is one important factor which leads to fatigue, low blood pressure and low sugar levels. Low blood pressure is generally not as dangerous as high blood pressure, but it can also cause other health issues such as insufficient blood flow to your retinas, your optic nerves and your brain cells. When your blood pressure drops to too low, your joints, hands, and feet will also suffer from lack of sufficient blood flow which can cause arthritis and neuropathy. In order to maintain good health, it is very important to optimize your blood pressure. Acupuncture can optimize blood pressure by strengthening your adrenal gland function and additionally will increase blood flow to your joints and eyes. In order to maintain a healthy blood pressure, you have to consumer a sufficient amount of fluids. Increasing salt intake or drinking more coffee will cause the contraction of the blood vessels, so your blood pressure may increase, but you can also develop arteriosclerosis (stiffing of the blood vessels) in the future, which may lead to a stroke.
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects more and more people every year. What are the main causes of hypertension and how can we prevent it? The following factors can contribute to hypertension:
- High salt intake can cause constant constriction of small blood vessels and leads to high blood pressure.
- Stress can lead to high levels of fight or flight hormones and cortisol, which causes water retention and spasms of the peripheral blood vessels.
- Pituitary tumors can cause high blood pressure.
How we can prevent hypertension?
- Acupuncture once a week or every other week to reduce the stress and rebalance nervous system.
- Meditation, Qi Gong, and yoga can also help reduce the stress
- Drink Chinese herbal tea: such as Mei Gui Hua or white ginger tea to induce the relaxing hormones such as endorphin.
- Regular exercises to clear up the stress hormones.
- Drink Hibiscus tea once or twice a day to clear the internal heat and smooth the liver Qi.
Premature ventricular contraction