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World J Cardiol. 2012 Mar 26;4(3):60-5. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v4.i3.60.

Acupuncture for paroxysmal and persistent atrial fibrillation: An effective non-pharmacological tool?

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1
Federico Lombardi, Sebastiano Belletti, Pier Maria Battezzati, Alberto Lomuscio, Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry, University of Milan, 20147 Milan, Italy.

Abstract

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, stimulation of the Neiguan spot has been utilized to treat palpitations and symptoms related to different cardiovascular diseases. We evaluated whether acupuncture might exert an antiarrhythmic effect on patients with paroxysmal or persistent atrial fibrillation (AF). Two sets of data are reviewed. The first included patients with persistent AF who underwent electrical cardioversion to restore sinus rhythm. The second included patients with symptomatic paroxysmal AF. All subjects had normal ventricular function. Acupuncture treatment consisted of 10 acupuncture sessions on a once a week basis with puncturing of the Neiguan, Shenmen and Xinshu spots. In patients with persistent AF, the recurrence rate after acupuncture treatment was similar to that observed in patients on amiodarone, but significantly smaller than that measured after sham acupuncture treatment or in the absence of any antiarrhythmic drugs. In a small group of patients with paroxysmal AF, acupuncture resulted in a significant reduction in the number and duration of symptomatic AF episodes. In conclusion, we observed that acupuncture of the Neiguan spot was associated with an antiarrhythmic effect, which was evident in patients with both persistent and paroxysmal AF. These preliminary data, observed in 2 small groups of AF patients, need to be validated in a larger population but strongly suggest that acupuncture may be an effective non-invasive and safe antiarrhythmic tool in the management of these patients.

KEYWORDS:

Antiarrhythmic drugs; Atrial arrhythmias; Autonomic mechanisms; Chinese medicine

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