A Chicago-based Northwestern Medicine researcher found acupuncture can improve patient outcomes following cardiac surgery.
In a study conducted by the health system, a small group of patients were treated with daily acupuncture following open heart surgery. The treatment was delivered in the patient’s hospital room by three licensed acupuncturists, who coordinated timing with patients and medical professionals to ensure the treatment was not disruptive to routine care.
“We learned that acupuncture after open heart surgery is feasible in this fast-paced environment — even in the intensive care unit the day after surgery — and was well tolerated by patients with no adverse effects,” lead investigator, Kim Feingold, PhD, a cardiac psychologist and the founder and director of Cardiac Behavioral Medicine at the Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, said in the September news release. “The majority of patients had no prior history with acupuncture, demonstrating their openness to receive integrative therapies after surgery. Overall, patients reported that it was a pleasant and positive aspect of their cardiovascular surgery recovery.”
Here are four study findings:
- Acupuncture lowered rates of post-operative atrial fibrillation by 58%, and only 14% of patients experienced incidents of POAF.
- The treatment reduced pain, nausea, stress and anxiety, based on patient reporting.
- Patients spent about seven fewer hours in intensive care than the control group.
- Need for antiarrhythmic medications at the time of discharge was reduced by 68%, and only 10% of patients who received acupuncture were on heart rhythm medication, compared to 27% of patients in the control group.