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Acupuncture for Atrial Fibrillation

by Jared Lien RN Licensed Acupuncturist

Atrial fibrillation is a growing problem in our country and is the most common type of heart arrhythmia. Atrial fibrillation occurs when the top chamber, the atrium, beats out of sync with the lower chamber of your heart, the ventricles. There is an estimated 2.7-6.1 million people in our country that suffer from atrial fibrillation. 9% of the population ages greater than 65 have atrial fibrillation or paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. [1] The most common signs and symptoms are palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, dizziness, extreme or worsening fatigue. If you experience any of these, you need to see your primary physician or cardiologist immediately. A-fib is very serious and can increase your risk of stroke by 4-5 times. An estimated 15-20% of strokes are due to a-fib. [1]

Management of a-fib is multifactorial and very difficult to manage. The patient must be on blood thinners due to the risk of stroke and some type of antiarrhythmic medicine. Cardioversions are performed under anesthesia where they use a defibrillator to shock the patient and convert them back to a normal rhythm. Ablations are performed if these are not effective at converting or controlling a-fib. Cardiac ablation is a procedure that is used to scar small areas in your heart that may be involved in your heart rhythm problems. This can prevent the abnormal electrical signals or rhythms from moving through the heart. [3]

Pericardium 6 also known as Nei Guan has been used for thousands of years to treat palpitations, and symptoms related to cardiovascular disease, nausea and vomiting. In a recent study from 2011 this point was looked at for its antiarrhythmic effect on a-fib and paroxysmal a-fib. This study published in the World Journal of Cardiology showed that acupuncture at p6 had a similar affect to a medication known as amiodarone. [2] This medication works well to control a-fib but comes with great risk. The side effects of this drug can be dangerous.  

  If you do have atrial fibrillation or paroxysmal a-fib acupuncture can help. Acupuncture has also been shown to decrease the reoccurrence of paroxysmal a-fib. Don't just settle for the standard care of drugs and procedures. There is much more that can be done to manage your condition. Make sure you see your doctor or cardiologist and get diagnosed and begin treatment. This is the most important first step! Have you been diagnosed and are looking to improve your life? Schedule an appointment at lienonmeacupuncture.com. I have two offices located in Pacific Beach and North Park of San Diego. 

Works Cited
1.   CDC.GOV. (2015, august 1). Retrieved from Centers for disease control and prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_atrial_fibrillation.htm

2.   World J Cardiol 2012 March 26; 4(3): 60-65

3.  PhD, M. A. (2014, 10 26). Medline plus. (D. Zieve, Editor) Retrieved from Medline: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007368.htm