February Is American Heart Month

Acupuncture Can Help Keep Hearts Healthy

February is not just for Valentines Day. Since 1963, it has also been American Heart Month to underscore the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. Every year more than a million Americans will suffer a heart attack.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), in 2009 heart disease cost the United States $304.6 billion for health care services, medications, and lost productivity. In traditional western medicine, before or after a heart attack, doctors may perform open heart surgery, remove blockage in arteries via angioplasty or insert a surgical stent after angioplasty to prevent an artery from collapsing. Recovery from such major surgery can be long and painful.

In recent years, however, West has net East through integrative rehabilitation, a comprehensive management program, in which traditional treatments are augmented with complementary treatments such as acupuncture. In numerous studies, acupuncture has been found to be beneficial for patients suffering from angina, relieving symptoms and lessening the need for drug therapy. It has also been found to help patients manage blood pressure.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) believes that chest pain is caused when there is an obstruction of the circulation of the vital energy or “Qi” (pronounced “chee”) and blood. The pain may be caused by either deficiency or excess patterns of energy or a combination of both. After performing a detailed intake with the patient in order to determine which concerns are affecting her, a licensed acupuncturist will the determine which concerns the appropriate treatment to re-balance the body’s vital energy.

Laboratory studies have shown that acupuncture lowers hypertension mainly through blocking beta-receptors of the sympathetic nerves and through stimulating the adrenaline-angiotensin system which regulates blood pressure. Acupuncture also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (the “rest and digest,” or “tend and befriend” system) which lowers a patient’s stress response. Recent controlled studies have demonstrated that acupuncture is particularly beneficial for angina. Additionally, regular acupuncture treatments can reduce discomfort and shorten recovery time after surgery.

East and West agree that the best alternative to combating heart disease is to follow the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7” program-seven simple steps that can keep your heart healthy: 1) Get active. 2) Eat better. 3) Lose weight. 4) Control cholesterol. 5) Reduce blood sugar. 6) Stop smoking. 7) Manage blood pressure. To learn more, visit the AHA’s website at http://www.americanheart.org