Researchers in Italy have found that acupuncture prevents recurrence of arrhythmias in patients who have undergone cardioversion treatment (electrical stimulation of the heart back into regular rhythm) for persistent atrial fibrillation.
Eighty patients were enrolled in the study: 26 were already on a standard anti-arrhythmic drug, whilst the remaining 54 were randomly allocated to receive acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or neither the drug nor acupuncture. The acupuncture group received ten weekly treatments. During a one year follow-up period, arrhythmia recurrence rates were 27% in the drug group and 35% in the acupuncture group. However, in the sham acupuncture group, recurrence was 69%, and in the no-treatment group, it was 54%. Acupuncture was thus similar in benefit to standard drug treatment.
(Efficacy of Acupuncture in Preventing Atrial Fibrillation Recurrences After Electrical Cardioversion. Journal of Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. Aug 2010. Epub ahead of print.)