Heart Failure

IHVC & Dr. Chang Present

Integrative Know How

Acupuncture and Heart Failure

Acupuncture can help manage congestive heart failure along with conventional medicine

What is congestive heart failure?

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a term describing a state of decreased heart function resulting in increased pressure in the veins and accumulation of edema fluid in the chest or belly. CHF is the terminal stage of heart diseases. In human, about half of all patients with CHF die within 5 years. In dogs and cats, about half of them die within 7-10 months. Common clinical signs include fatigue, weakness, fluid accumulation (pulmonary edema, edema on extremities, ascites), coughing, etc.

What are the body’s responses when CHF happens?

The body will use several different methods to help the heart:

  1. Remodeling heart muscles: Aim to restore the function of left ventricular muscle.
  2. Activation of sympathetic nervous system: Correct the low blood pressure from heart failure.
  3. Activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS): Preserve blood volume due to low heart output.

These mechanisms will help for a short term, but will create a deteriorating cycle and lead to other complications such as heart attack, edema, kidney, liver, eye damage due to high blood pressure, etc. Without proper management, these complications will significantly shorten patients’ life.

How can acupuncture help?

The primary treatment for CHF is western drugs. Based on previous studies on human and animals, acupuncture has the following effects, which can also be beneficial for CHF patients:

  1. Inhibit output of sympathetic nerves.
  2. Dilate blood vessels and decrease blood pressure if patient has high blood pressure.
  3. Protect heart muscle, reduce chances of heart attack.

Acupuncture is a promising modality for managing CHF patients to improve the outcome and quality of life.