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Acupuncture improves exercise tolerance

By Lilian Anekwe

Acupuncture can ‘remarkably' improve exercise tolerance in patients with heart failure say German cardiology researchers.

Their study included 17 patients with congestive heart failure with mild or marked limitation to their activity- all on optimised medication.

They were randomised to receive acupuncture or placebo – a needle that simulates the procedure without piercing the skin.

No improvement in cardiac ejection fraction or peak oxygen uptake was seen. But the six minute walk distance was ‘remarkably increased' in the acupuncture group by 32m on average, compared to a drop of 1m in the placebo group.

Post-exercise recovery and ventilatory efficiency were both improved in the acupuncture group but not in the placebo group.

Study leader Dr Johannes Backs, head of the research group at the department of cardiology at Heidelberg University Hospital said: ‘This is the first indication that acupuncture may improve exercise tolerance in CHF patients- when given in addition to optimised standard heart failure medication.'

Heart, online 15 June

Acupuncture improves exercise tolerance