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Angina and Coronary Heart Disease: Acupuncture Treatment

Acupuncture can serve as an adjunct therapy to conventional medication during acute attacks of angina and can also be combined with other traditional Chinese and conventional treatments during stable phases. Both animal experiments and clinical studies have demonstrated significant effects of acupuncture on the cardiovascular system, making it a valuable supplementary treatment for common symptoms of coronary heart disease, such as angina, arrhythmia, and reduced left ventricular function.

Acupuncture points are identified by locating areas of tenderness or nodules with positive responses in the cardiac reflex zones, which are located in the anterior chest area, upper back, or the inner side of the upper limbs.

The mechanisms of acupuncture in counteracting angina or treating coronary heart disease have been thoroughly investigated in many animal experiments. Studies have shown that acupuncture or electroacupuncture can reduce oxygen consumption in ischemic myocardium, prevent a decrease in pH levels in coronary sinus blood (thereby preventing acidosis in heart muscle cells), enhance myocardial contractility, decrease glucose uptake in ischemic myocardium, increase the uptake of free fatty acids, and improve blood supply to the myocardium, promoting normalization of electrical activity in ischemic myocardium.

In the vast clinical experience of acupuncture treatment for heart diseases, the Neiguan (PC6) point is most frequently used, and its efficacy has been widely recognized. It is known that stimulating the deep part of the median nerve at Neiguan has beneficial effects.

Acupuncture at Neiguan can strongly inhibit sympathetic nerve tension, as evidenced by a decrease in heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and the amplitude of sympathetic electrical reactions, as well as an extension of their latency period.

There are two methods for stimulating points on the flexor side of the forearm: one involves shallow needling to elicit a sensation of soreness and swelling, aiming for the needle sensation to radiate towards the upper arm and chest; the other involves deep needling, targeting the nerve trunk (median nerve) to achieve a radiating tingling sensation towards the fingertips. Generally, needling on the left arm is considered more important than on the right. For local reflex points in the anterior chest and back areas, acupuncture stimulation is also possible, but caution should be exercised regarding the angle and depth of needling to avoid accidents.

Due to the chronic nature of coronary heart disease, acupuncture treatment usually requires a long course. Even after effective results are obtained, treatment should continue for at least six months to consolidate the effects.

Additionally, combining acupuncture treatment with exercise therapy is crucial. Coronary heart disease patients, whether predominantly suffering from myocardial ischemia or arrhythmias, should engage in increased physical exercise after the acute phase.

Overall, acupuncture's role in treating heart diseases lies in its ability to modulate the body's internal systems, providing a complementary approach to conventional treatments for heart diseases.


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