Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture Prevents Heart Attacks Research

New research concludes that acupuncture improves heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is the variation in time between heart beats and is an index of the body’s ability to maintain control of the heart beat rate and rhythm through vagus nerve activity. Reduced HRV is linked to mortality after myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure and diabetic neuropathy. Based on the HRV evidence, the researchers state that acupuncture may synchronize the two branches of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) - the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.  

In other recent research, acupuncture at acupoint CV17 has been proven to benefit the heart by increasing heart rate variability (HRV). This research demonstrates that acupuncture at CV17 is able to activate the autonomic nervous system to control the heart rate by increasing vagal activity. Other recent research demonstrates that acupuncture has “an antiarrhythmic effect” in the treatment of atrial fibrillation (A-fib). In the study, acupuncture points P6 (Neiguan), HT7 (Shenmen) and UB15 (Xinshu) demonstrated clinical efficacy in the reduction of A-fib.

In related current research from the University of California, acupuncture has been shown to reduce high blood pressure (hypertension), protect heart tissue from damage and to reduce arrhythmias. Investigators from the University of California in both Irvine and Los Angeles “have shown that electroacupuncture stimulation activates neurons” in specific brain regions thereby reducing hypertension. The researchers successfully mapped the brain network stimulated by acupuncture and demonstrated that acupuncture reduces high blood pressure (HBP) by downregulating pathological excesses emitted by the sympathetic nervous system. The acupuncture points in the study proven to have this effect are located on the arm: P5, P6, LI10 and LI11.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide. These findings demonstrate that acupuncture is a successful tool in benefitting the heart. Acupuncture has been proven to prevent heart tissue damage, reduce arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation and acupuncture has been shown to reduce high blood pressure.


Acupuncture and heart rate variability: a systems level approach to understanding mechanism. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 12 (Suppl 1), P302. B Anderson, A Nielsen, B Kligler, and D McKee.

Kurono Y, Minagawa M, Ishigami T, Yamada A, Kakamu T, Hayano J. Auton Neurosci. Acupuncture to Danzhong but not to Zhongting increases the cardiac vagal component of heart rate variability. 2011 Apr 26;161(1-2):116-20. Epub 2011 Jan 7.

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 878673, 9 pages. doi:10.1155/2012/878673. Neuroendocrine Mechanisms of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Hypertension. Wei Zhou and John C. Longhurst. Department of Anesthesiology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA. Department of Medicine, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA.

About the Healthcare Medicine Institute: HealthCMi provides online acupuncture CEUs to licensed acupuncturists and publishes news related to acupuncture, Chinese medicine and important innovations in healthcare technology.