Deadline Detroit | Dr Joel Kahn: Acupuncture May Help Relieve Certain Heart Diseases And Deserves Respect

The Bi-weekly Health Columns are written by a practicing cardiologist, clinical professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine and founder of the Kahn Center for Heart Longevity at Bingham Farms. He is an author and has appeared on national television including “Dr. Oz” and “The Doctors Show”.

By Dr Joel Kahn

When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

After a year of adjusting medications and supplements to control a heart rhythm problem in my patient, she arrived with a big smile and a twist. In that case, she was the teacher. Only “Billie” had started frequent sessions with an acupuncturist who inserts fine needles into the body. In no time, the episodes of the heartbeat subsided and she documented marked improvement.

His experience led me to research the use of acupuncture more broadly, and this component of Traditional Chinese Medicine is now part of my “toolbox” for restoring health to the root cause level. Although more research is needed, I have seen a positive response from acupuncture therapy in heart patients with five heart risks:

angina pain: This feeling of suffocation, compression or pressure in the chest is brought on by activity and quickly relieved with rest or a nitroglycerin tablet. It usually results from a large, severely blocked heart artery, but many patients have arteries that appear normal on angiography, and small artery disease is also suspected.

Angina pectoris results from a lack of oxygen supply to the active cells of the heart muscle. Perhaps by reducing activity from the sympathetic nervous system to the heart muscle (the fight-or-flight system), some patients with angina respond to acupuncture with fewer symptoms and a better ability to travel long distances.

Congestive heart failure: This potentially serious condition can result from a heart attack or viral involvement, but it is often seen with strong hearts that do not relax properly. Research studies have shown improvements in the ability to walk longer distances without shortness of breath after acupuncture therapy, and I have seen similar results. Again, the reduction in sympathetic nerve activity is the supposed reason.

Arrhythmia: Just as my patient “Billie” taught me, the heart is an energetic organ whose every beat is controlled by a wave of electricity and recovery. In addition, while the heart is abundantly supplied with nerve fibers from the brain, it also has many nerve communications from the heart. back to the brain.

With each breath, the heart rate should subtly accelerate; with each exhale it should slow down. This is measured as the heart rate variability, or HRV. The better your HRV, the healthier you are.

Acupuncture has been shown to improve HRV in humans. Studies on various heart rhythm problems show promise in reducing or eliminating the distress of palpitations such as atrial fibrillation.


Acupuncture “is now part of my ‘toolbox’ for restoring health.”

Hypertension: Overloading the sympathetic nervous system plays a role in increased blood pressure which can damage the kidneys, arteries, eyes, and brain. I have seen individual patients benefit from lower blood pressure with consistent acupuncture practice, and the American College of Cardiology considers this a promising alternative therapy. Experts are still divided on how acupuncture predictably results in normal blood pressure.

Smoking cessation: Although tobacco consumption has declined, smoking remains the leading cause of death from heart disease and cancer. Acupuncture can help nicotine addicted patients to stop this habit. Over 3,000 patients have been studied in randomized trials on the role of acupuncture in quitting smoking, and most research shows a positive effect.

Traditional therapies don’t work for everyone, and some prefer a holistic, drug-free approach. I’m grateful that “Billie” explored an alternative approach to reducing her palpitations.

I plan to continue to explore the use of acupuncture and other oriental practices, such as tai chi and yoga, in treatment plans. Maybe they can help someone you know.


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Terrence J. James