Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture Reduces Stroke Risk Discovery

Acupuncture decreases the risk of stroke for patients with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Stimulation of acupoints has been proven to reduce stroke risk and post-stroke depression. An investigation of 29,636 patients with TBI reveals that patients receiving acupuncture have a “lower probability of stroke than those without acupuncture treatment during the follow-up period.” Patients from 2000-2008 were reviewed from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. Follow-ups continued through the end of 2010. The study “showed significantly decreased risk of new-onset stroke events for patients with TBI who received acupuncture treatment. The present study is the first to report that acupuncture treatment was associated with reduced stroke risk for patients with TBI.”

The researchers note that acupuncture provides other medical benefits to patients with TBI. They noted, “Our previous study found that patients with TBI who received acupuncture treatment had less emergency care and hospitalization in the first year after injury compared with control.” Another study cited in the research “proved that acupuncture improves cognition and perception of sleep or sleep quality.” 

The researchers uncovered numerous studies demonstrating that acupuncture is effective “in improving stroke patients’ physical abilities.” They also found concrete evidence showing that acupuncture helps to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and improve the “lipid profile.” They note that this type of research helps to explain why acupuncture is effective in reducing the risk of stroke in TBI patients.

The study is important in that the sample size is large and that strict study designs were used. Additionally, the researchers sorted for sociodemographics and preexisting medical conditions to ensure accurate results. As a result, the researchers give a 95% rating of confidence to the study’s outcome.

The breakdown shows some interesting results. Overall, incidence rates for strokes in TBI patients decreased from 7.5 per 1,000 patients in the non-acupuncture group to 4.9 in the acupuncture group. Sorted by gender, females without acupuncture had an incidence of 6.5 per 1,000 but with acupuncture had an incidence of 4.6. For males, the incidence was 7.9 per 1,000 for non-acupuncture patients and 5.2 for acupuncture patients. For TBI patients from ages 20-44, the incidence was 2.1 for non-acupuncture patients and 1.2 for acupuncture patients. For ages 45-64, the incidence was 10.6 for non-acupuncture patients and 7.4 for acupuncture patients. For TBI patients 65 and older, the incidence was 28.4 per 1,000 for non-acupuncture patients and 18.0 for acupuncture patients.  An example of a 32 guage, 1 inch acupuncture needle.

In other recent related research, investigators discovered that combining acupuncture with conventional medications decreases post-stroke depression (PSD). Researchers examined 150 patients in a controlled single blind study. They concluded that acupuncture combined with medications synergistically improves patient outcomes by decreasing post-stroke syndrome, improving limb function and benefitting serum biochemistry. The study group receiving both acupuncture and medications had significantly better patient outcomes than the medication only and acupuncture only groups. This research supports the integration of acupuncture into conventional medical settings for patients who have suffered a stroke.

Shih, Chun-Chuan, Yi-Ting Hsu, Hwang-Huei Wang, Ta-Liang Chen, Chin-Chuan Tsai, Hsin-Long Lane, Chun-Chieh Yeh et al. "Decreased Risk of Stroke in Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury Receiving Acupuncture Treatment: A Population-Based Retrospective Cohort Study." PLOS ONE 9, no. 2 (2014): e89208.

Clinical research on treating PSD by acupuncture combined with medicine. Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicine, 2014 (1), R749.4, 361009; 10.3969/j.issn.1674-7860.2014.01.007.


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