Over the past two decades an increasing number of Americans have begun utilizing acupuncture to help reduce the severity of symptoms related to a myriad of health conditions, including back pain, arthritis, menstrual cramps and headaches.
Meanwhile, results of a new German study suggest that the ancient Chinese therapy may also improve exercise tolerance in patients diagnosed with congestive heart failure.
For the study, lead investigator Johannes Backs, director of the Department of Internal Medicine at Heidelberg University Hospital, and his colleagues recruited 17 congestive heart failure patients who were in stable condition yet who were physically limited by their condition. The participants were randomly assigned to blindly receive acupuncture or placebo treatment.
After 10 weeks of therapy, the patients who received acupuncture were able to walk greater distances and felt less exhausted than those in the control group.
"This is the first indication that acupuncture may improve exercise tolerance in CHF patients—when given in addition to optimized standard heart failure medication," said Backs.
He added that the treatment did not improve patients’ heart pump function, but may have benefited their skeletal muscle strength.