(NaturalNews) Have a serious heart rhythm problem and trying alternative and complementary approaches to help? If so, the odds are you might well be told by your mainstream doctor and even family and friends that those therapies are "quackery" and you need to totally rely on Big Pharma drugs or surgery. However, news from an international cardiology conference could hopefully change those outdated opinions about therapies like acupressure and yoga.
Research just presented at the at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) EuroHeart Care Congress being held in Glasgow, Scotland, reveals medical yoga and acupressure reduce blood pressure and heart rates in patients in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other serious complications. An estimated 2.7 million Americans have AF, according to the American Heart Association, and current standard treatments include drugs and surgical interventions to try to alter the heart's electrical system -- but they don't always keep AF at bay.
"One of the overall aims of treatment for AF is lowering heart rate because high and irregular heart rates can lead to emboli forming and result in stroke," Professor Ozlem Ceyhan, a nurse trainer from Erciyes University, Kayseri, Turkey, said in a press statement. "In these studies both acupressure and yoga are reducing heart rate, which should have a really beneficial effect. Furthermore, both approaches have the advantage of being easy to administer and cost effective, with no serious side effects."
Yoga helps AF that comes and goes
The ESC guidelines define paroxysmal AF (PAF) as episodes of the quivering arrhythmia that self-terminate in less than seven days but reoccur. Maria Nilsson, a nurse from Danderyd Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden, who has practiced yoga for the last 10 years, presented her research at the conference into whether yoga might help patients with PAF. This kind of AF makes up between 25 percent and 62 percent of all cases of AF.
"We chose to use medical yoga, which is a form of yoga involving deep breathing, light movements, meditation and relaxation. The advantage here is that the movements are easy to learn and can be performed while sitting in a chair," Nilsson told conference attendees.
For the study, 80 patients with diagnosed PAF were randomized to the usual medical treatment plus yoga or just the usual treatment. Patients in the yoga group attended hour long sessions of yoga classes one time a week, over a period of three months. The results showed that after three months those in the yoga group experienced significant decreases in both blood pressure and heart rate compared to those in the control group. Heart rate and blood pressure actually increased in the group not practicing yoga.
What's more, the patients who received yoga training showed improvements in their physical quality of life and mental quality of life at three months, compared to those in the control group. "Our study suggests doctors could do worse than prescribing yoga for all patients with hypertension and fast heart rates," said Nilsson. Her research team is now conducting more research to see if reductions in blood pressure and heart rate halt the frequency of PAF episodes.
Acupressure shows benefit in patients with persistent AF
In the second study, Professor Ozlem Ceyhan, a nurse trainer from Erciyes University, Kayseri, Turkey, investigated the use of acupressure among patients who were in the hospital due to persistent AF. 30 patients were in an intervention group that received acupressure (performed on acupressure points PC6, HT7 and CV17). Another group of 30 patients with non-stop AF were treated with placebo therapy -- they were "treated" with a sham acupressure device that was bound in place without applying pressure. Treatments, sham and real, were performed between two and four times a day. Pulse and blood pressure readings taken before, during and after the sessions and other information was collected via patient questionnaires.
The patients in the acupressure group experienced significant decreases in pulse rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared to those allocated to the placebo group. "One thing that was really notable in our study was that we did not observe that any patients in the intervention group had further attacks of AF while in hospital, compared to 10 percent of patients in the placebo group suggesting acupressure may be preventing further attacks," Ceyhan said in a statement to the media.
She added that acupressure was an easy to use technique that patients could administer on themselves at home to reduce the frequency of AF attacks. Ceyhan and her colleagues plan to investigate to see if other acupressure points would have a beneficial effect on heart rhythm.
As Natural News has previously reported, some researchers have found that acupressure may help cancer patients, too. For example, a study by Rochester Medical Center researchers published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found acupressure wristbands appear to be a safe, low-cost way to help cancer patients cut down on nausea when undergoing radiation, chemo and other treatments.
About the author: Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA''''s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine''''s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic''''s "Men''''s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.