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Acupuncture: Improving ability to exercise in heart patients

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We all know that exercise is good for your muscles and your heart (which is after all another muscle) is no exception. A good cardio workout does a body, and your heart, good! Unfortunately, one of the big problems with coronary artery disease is that it can make exercise much more difficult. Your mind may be willing to go out there and brave the treadmill, but your body responds with a resounding you-want-me-to-do-what followed by a definite I-don’t-think-so!

Even when the mind and spirit are willing, persons suffering from various forms of heart disease (such as refractory angina or chronic heart failure) may find themselves physically unable to tolerate even the mildest exertion. The simple act of walking across the room may leave them fatigued, exhausted and fighting for breath. This creates a kind of a catch-22 between wanting and needing to exercise so the heart will get stronger and health will improve, and the lack of physical ability, due to heart disease, to put an exercise plan into action.

A solution to this exercise dilemma may reside in the ancient practice of acupuncture. Chinese in origin, the practice of acupuncture is thousands of years old. Acupuncture practitioners believe that you can rebalance your life force (chi or qi, pronounced “chee”) through the insertion of thin needles at specific, predetermined acupuncture points along meridian lines on your body. (According to traditional Chinese acupuncture practice, there are 14 predetermined acupuncture meridians, or lines, on your body. Different points along the meridians are mapped to specific diseases or maladies.)

According to one recent German research study, the practice of acupuncture may improve the ability to tolerate exercise for those who suffer from chronic heart disease. The study, conducted by the Department of Internal Medicine III (Cardiology, Angiology and Pneumology) at Heidelberg University Hospital, found that the use of acupuncture increased muscle strength (skeletal muscles – not heart muscles) resulting in an increased ability of the participants to walk further.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.