Acupuncture for Acute Heart Disease: Hubris, Ignorance, or Delusional

Acupuncture for Acute Heart Disease: Hubris, Ignorance, or Delusional

I have spent the last 35 years mostly in acute care medicine. Spending most of my day in the hospital gives one the bias that we are fragile creatures who can die unexpectedly and easily. Most of the time we pull patients through, but I have a great wariness for acute diseases. Over the years I have seen too many people wake up feeling good and dead by dinner time

Heart attacks and heart arrhythmias can certainly kill. About 5% of patients admitted to the hospital with a heart attack die. And 250,000 have sudden death each year, never making it to the hospital, succumbing to their ventricular fibrillation precipitated by acute coronary ischemia.

Scary stuff. So when I read Pubmed articles like Effects of Acupuncture at the Yintang and the Chengjiang Acupoints on Cardiac Arrhythmias and Neurocardiogenic Syncope in Emergency First Aid, I wonder what is going on in the minds of some people.

They note in their introduction that

Epidemiological studies report overall mortality rates of 30% on average, with half the deaths occurring in the first 2 hours of the event and 14% of the deaths occurring before the patient receives any medical care.

So what do they do? Think their experience with guitar hero makes them ready for play in place of Jimmy Page.

A 45 year old woman ... had a previous history of a valvuloplasty for rheumatic disease and two acute myocardial infarctions, followed by four catheterizations and an angioplasty.

So severe cardiac disease, someone who could easily die from their heart disease. When the patient had syncope,  tachycardia, hypertension, tachypnea, and precordial pain, all signs of impending death,  these acupuncturists of course responded by calling an ambulance or 911? Nope. They needled

…the YinTang acupoint and stimulation of the ChengJiang acupoint through acupressure were performed for 20 minutes

and fortunately for the patient the episode was self limited, as is sometimes the case. Of course, the acupuncturists took the credit, believing the

acupuncture at YinTang and ChenJiang acupoints induced cardiovascular responses, increased the limits of the body's homeostasis, and normalized the patient's condition in the case of syncope. Acupuncture using a combination of ChengJiang and YinTang acupoints had an immediate effect on the autonomic nervous system and on maintaining homeostasis and energy balance in the body.

This demonstrates how delusional alternative providers can be. They conclude

However, it is worth mentioning that even though this technique is effective, the patient may still need to be referred to the Emergency Room.

You think? I gives me the willies to think people with potentially fatal processes are getting this kind of nonsense instead. And it wasn't in Asia, where acupuncture is part of the culture, but Brazil. 

Who brags in the literature that they treat acute cardiac events with pseudo-science and then, as an aside, suggests real medicine? The authors do not need a publication, they need to be reprimanded for putting patients at risk through incompetence,   although as best I can tell none of the authors are physicians who might take care of acute cardiac pathology.  Which makes it worse.  Next they will open a clinic in Florida.

Also, I have to mention that they have what look to be computer representations of the acupuncture points and they have a black bar across the eyes so we can't recognize them. What?

And this is not the only person trying to die.When Russ Mason of Micronesia is having his second heart attack  his wife, who evidently wants the life insurance, took off for an acupuncturist

In the 40 minutes I had to wait while she drove from Santa Lourdes to As Matuis and back, I was in dire distress. I couldn't lay down, I couldn't sit up, I couldn't do much of anything. I took my meds and some aspirin and immediately felt the need to vomit, but nothing came out. What a wretch I was. I sipped some water with baking soda and that soothed me.

The acupuncturist took his pulse, knew the problem, and gave acupuncture to fix his heart. And for added measure

Sometimes the doctor grabs me, vigorously rubs my head, my eye sockets, and, at one point, got me into a hammer lock and yanked me up in my chair. He said that my spine was out of alignment but that it was OK now.

Russ liked the personal attention:

Instead of one serious practitioner who did everything, there was a steady stream of doctors, nurses and other personnel who would breeze in, do something important and then breeze out again. I like the Chinese doctor better, frankly. It's more personal and immediate.

And he concludes about his heart condition

I think I'll be OK. That is my hope, anyway.

I hope so too. But given his current "Doctor", I would not be so optimistic.

Points of Interest 02/25/2016
Points of Interest 02/23/2016

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