Acupuncture is suitable for treating primary hypotension (170, 171) and early essential hypertension (172-176). It has been reported that the influence of acupuncture on hypertension might be related to its regulatory effect on the level of serum nitrogen monoxide (177). For primary hypotension, acupuncture seems to be more effective than general tonics. For mild and moderate essential hypertension, the hypotensive effect of acupuncture is much more potent than that of placebos and is comparable with that of certain conventional hypotensive agents. In addition, acupuncture is often effective for relieving subjective symptoms, and it has no side-effects.
Encouraging results have been reported for a number of controlled studies on the treatment of heart disease with acupuncture, particularly in psychosomatic heart disorders, such as cardiac neurosis (178). In coronary heart disease, acupuncture has been shown by various authors to be effective in relieving angina pectoris. Its beneficial influence has been demonstrated during coronary arteriography. Cardiological, neurophysiological and psychological observations, made in mutually independent studies, indicated that acupuncture improved the working capacity of the heart in patients with angina pectoris and activated autoregulatory cardiovascular mechanisms in healthy persons (179). In controlled studies, acupuncture has provided significantly greater improvement in symptoms and cardiac work capacity than either placebo (180-182) or conventional medication, such as glyceryl trinitrate (183, 184). Dilation of the coronary artery during acupuncture has been shown to be comparable with that observed during intracatheter injection of isosorbide dinitrate (185). In addition, acupuncture has a beneficial effect on the left ventricular function of patients with coronary heart disease, and is also more effective than nifedipine and isosorbide dinitrate (186). Nèigu?n (PC6) is the point most commonly used for treating cardiac disorders. The beneficial effect of acupuncture at this point has been demonstrated by serial equilibrium radionuclide angiography (187). Acupuncture also produces haemorrheological improvement (188).
In order to avoid unexpected accidents, however, special attention should be paid to the treatment of heart disease. Acupuncturists must be able to differentiate between angina pectoris and acute myocardial infarction.