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Acupuncture and the cardiovascular system: a scientific challenge
  1. Søren Ballegaard
  1. Acupuncture Centre, Lemchesvej 1, DK-2900 Hellerup, Denmark

    Summary

    In acupuncture research two main issues have to be addressed. One is whether the needle has a biological effect of its own. The other is whether acupuncture is of help to patients in their daily lives. With reference to this, acupuncture is a complex form of treatment in which the needles modulate physiological mechanisms of the body and the doctor supports the patient to achieve a life-style that assists with this.

    To evaluate the biological effects of needling, a randomised, controlled trial group of 49 patients with angina pectoris had acupuncture while cardiological, neurophysiological and psychological observations were made in a mutually independent manner. Needling was found to improve the working capacity of the heart. In addition, acupuncture was found to activate cardiovascular autoregulatory mechanisms in 24 healthy persons.

    To evaluate the effect of acupuncture in daily life, a controlled trial group of 69 patients with severe angina pectoris were followed for 2 years after treatment. The incidence of cardiac death or myocardial infarction was 7%, compared to 15–21% for the control group of published results concerning invasive treatments. Due to clinical improvement, surgery was postponed in 61% of the patients. The annual number of in-hospital days was reduced by 90%, leading to a US$ 12,000 saving for each patient.

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