Medical Research

Improvement of menopausal symptoms with acupuncture not reflected in changes to heart rate variability

Kristen Sparrow • April 05, 2011

This undercuts one of my theories that if someone’s autonomics, heart rate variability (HRV) are improved with acupuncture then they are more likely to see improvement in their symptoms. In this study, the patients improved in 11 out of 12 of their symptoms from menopause, but their HRV did not change.

(To read further about acupuncture, HRV, and my practice please click here.)

Improvement of menopausal symptoms with acupuncture not reflected in changes to heart rate variability.

Wright CL, Aickin M.

School of Nursing Portland Campus, 3455 SW US Veterans Road, SN-ORD, Portland, OR 97239, USA;
Acupunct Med. 2011 Mar;29(1):32-9.

Hypothesis Studies indicate that menopausal symptoms are relieved by acupuncture. Additional studies have suggested that acupuncture may affect heart rate variability (HRV). This paper reports a pilot study that investigated whether menopausal symptoms responded to acupuncture, and if changes in the spectral analysis of HRV, either suppression of low frequency or augmentation of high frequency bands, corresponded with symptom report. Methods/interventions 12 healthy menopausal subjects were enrolled in this feasibility study. At baseline, subjects were experiencing moderately distressing menopausal symptoms, scoring at least 22 of a possible 44 points on the Menopausal Rating Scale. 10 traditional Chinese medicine-based, protocol acupuncture treatments were administered over a 4 week period, three times a week for 2 weeks, followed by twice a week for 2 weeks. Outcome measures Menopausal Rating Scale questionnaire, 11 menopausal symptoms were evaluated on a zero to four severity scale via self-administered daily checklist for 4 weeks. Dynamic measures of HRV (autoregressive model) were captured before, during and after acupuncture at each session. Spectral analysis of the heart rate was used to compute power in the low frequency and high frequency bands, and their ratio. RESULTS: All subjects complied fully with the protocol without any reported adverse events. While all 11 symptoms showed significant improvement, and one HRV measure changed, on average over the study period, there was essentially no support for a relationship between HRV, menopausal symptom report and acupuncture intervention.