Acupuncture in severe, stable angina pectoris: a randomized trial

Ballegaard S, Jensen G, Pedersen F, Nissen VH.

Twenty-six patients with stable angina pectoris, resistant to medical treatment, were randomized to either active or sham acupuncture in a single-blind design. Sham acupuncture was defined as the insertion of needles in a point within the same spinal segments as the active acupuncture, but outside the Chinese meridian system. The effect was evaluated from anginal attack rate, nitroglycerin consumption and exercise tests. Compared to patients receiving sham acupuncture the patients receiving active acupuncture increased cardiac work capacity significantly, expressed as dPRP (difference in pressure-rate-product between rest and maximum exercise) and maximal PRP during exercise (p less than 0.001). None of the other variables showed any significant difference between the two groups. Concerning exercise tolerance the median difference was 138 Wmin (95% confidence limits – 12.5 to 325 Wmin), concerning anginal attack rate the median difference was 29.5% (95% confidence limits 55% to –11%) and with regard to nitroglycerin consumption the median difference was 5% (95% confidence limits +67% to –44%). No significant effect of sham treatment was observed, no adverse effect was observed. We suggest that acupuncture may improve cardiac work capacity in patients with angina pectoris, refractory to medical treatment.

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