February is American Heart Month, an opportunity to call attention to heart health and cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women. Whether you have a family history of heart disease or you’re just trying to improve heart health, acupuncture—along with healthy lifestyle choices, such as exercise, diet, adequate sleep and stress management—may be able to help. Exciting research supports its effectiveness for treating a wide array of health conditions and issues, including those that impact your heart.

Acupuncture is an aspect of traditional Chinese medicine that can enhance blood flow, stimulate nerves and muscles and affect the release of neurotransmitters and hormones. We’re learning more about how it works every day, and as a result, experts are studying how it can help treat a variety of health conditions, including heart issues. For example, hypertension (aka high blood pressure) is a risk factor for heart disease that can go unnoticed until it’s done irreparable damage. Research has shown that acupuncture can lower systolic blood pressure by as much as 20 points when performed on a regular basis. It’s also been shown to lower stress while improving heart function in people with heart failure, a chronic condition that occurs when your heart can no longer pump adequately.

Of course, you should always see your doctor first if you suspect you’re having heart problems; working with a specialist can save your life. Acupuncture is a complementary therapy that may help reduce the need for medications and/or keep your condition from worsening. Hypertension, smoking, excess body weight, stress and sleep disorders all contribute to heart disease and acupuncture can help address these. To learn more about how acupuncture works to improve heart health contact Vitality Holistic Medicine in Kansas City or Lawrence today.