A 72 year old female with a main complaint of severe post-herpetic neuralgia and a secondary complaint of atrial fibrillation (AF) received two series of acupuncture treatments totalling 20 treatments over a four month period. Her standard medical treatment remained unchanged. The primary focus of the acupuncture was pain relief; however, two acupuncture points (PC6, SP4) were included in both treatment series because of possible effects on both costal or chest pain and cardiac arrhythmias, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) teaching and limited research. As recorded by her pacemaker, estimated weekly episodes of AF in the patient decreased significantly, and percentage time in AF decreased with borderline statistical significance, from the pretreatment estimates during the second series of treatments (weekly AF episode estimates: pretreatment =71.4; second series =16.5, difference estimates =–54.9, 95% CI –6.5 to –103.3, P=0.02; percentage time in AF estimates: pretreatment =30.6; 2 second series =18.0, difference estimates = –12.6, 95% CI 0.9 to –26.0, P=0.08). The pain levels were also significantly reduced following the acupuncture treatment series by more than 67%. Further studies are warranted to further explore these observations of a possible effect of acupuncture on both atrial fibrillation and post-herpetic neuralgia.
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