Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 218–226 | Cite as

Conventional Acupuncture for Cardiac Arrhythmia: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials

  • Jing Liu
  • Si-nai Li
  • Lu Liu
  • Kun Zhou
  • Yan Li
  • Xiao-yun Cui
  • Jie Wan
  • Jin-jin Lu
  • Yan-chao Huang
  • Xu-sheng Wang
  • Qian Lin
Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine



To exam the effect and safety of conventional acupuncture (CA) on cardiac arrhythmia.


Nine medical databases were searched until February 2016 for randomized controlled trials. Heterogeneity was measured by Cochran Q test. Meta-analysis was conducted if I2 was less than 85% and the characteristics of included trials were similar.


Nine qualified studies involving 638 patients were included. Only 1 study had definitely low risk of bias, while 7 trials were rated as unclear and 1 as high. Meta-analysis of CA alone did not have a significant benefit on response rate compared to amiodarone in patients with atrial fibrillation (Af) and atrial flutter (AF) [relative risk (RR): 1.09; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.79–1.49; P=0.61; I2=61%, P=0.11]. However, 1 study with higher methodological quality detected a lower recurrence rate of Af in CA alone as compared with sham acupuncture plus no treatment, and benefits on ventricular rate and time of conversion to normal sinus rhythm were found in CA alone group by 1 study, as well as the response rate in CA plus deslanoside group by another study. Meta-analysis of CA plus anti-arrhythmia drug (AAD) was associated with a significant benefit on the response rate when compared with AAD alone in ventricular premature beat (VPB) patients (RR, 1.19, 95% CI: 1.05–1.34; P=0.005; I2=13%, P=0.32), and an improvement in quality-of-life score (QOLS) of VPB also showed in 1 individual study. Besides, a lower heart rate was detected in the CA alone group by 1 individual study when compared with no treatment in sinus tachycardia patients (MD–21.84 [–27.21,–16.47]) and lower adverse events of CA alone were reported than amiodarone.


CA may be a useful and safe alternative or additive approach to AADs for cardiac arrhythmia, especially in VPB and Af patients, which mainly based on a pooled estimate and result from 1 study with higher methodological quality. However, we could not reach a robust conclusion due to low quality of overall evidence.


acupuncture cardiac arrhythmia systematic review 


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Copyright information

© Chinese Association of the Integration of Traditional and Western Medicine 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jing Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Si-nai Li
    • 3
  • Lu Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kun Zhou
    • 4
  • Yan Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiao-yun Cui
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jie Wan
    • 5
  • Jin-jin Lu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yan-chao Huang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xu-sheng Wang
    • 5
  • Qian Lin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Beijing University of Chinese MedicineBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Cardiology, Dongfang HospitalBeijing University of Chinese MedicineBeijingChina
  3. 3.Beijing Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese MedicineCapital Medical UniversityBeijingChina
  4. 4.Scientific Research Division, Dongfang HospitalBeijing University of Chinese MedicineBeijingChina
  5. 5.Intensive Care Unit, Dongfang HospitalBeijing University of Chinese MedicineBeijingChina

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