Can acupuncture 'cure' AF

I've been on aspirin which caused an ulcer and serious stomach bleed. Consultant now wants me to take warfarin plus omeprozol to protect the stomach lining. I've read somewhere that acupuncture can stop AF. Doc and consultant don't agree with that but I'm scared of another bleed with warfarin but on the other hand I definitely don't want a stroke. Does anyone have any experience of this. Thank you

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18 Replies

  • Aspirin has no place in stroke prevention for AF yet maintains the ability to cause harm as you have found.. Personally I would go for the warfarin any day as I have less problems than when I was wrongly put on aspirin. Sad to say this is all too common . Go with the consultant would be my choice.


  • Thank you for your advice. I still feel scared of the warfarin but is comforting to know. Toy can speak from experience

  • Thank you for your advice. I still feel scared of warfarin but it is comforting to know you speak from experience

  • Hi BR

    Not heard about acupuncture helping but nothing would surprise me. Used to know a consultant pediatrician who did it "on the side" for all sorts of problems but I know nothing about it.

    With Warfarin, based on what I know, we are very unlikely to get a bleed if we stay within the recommended INR range. Aspirin thins your blood, Warfarin doesn't, just helps to stop it clotting. Someone please tell me if I'm wrong or if a bleed is likely with Warfarin!

    Is an ablation an option for you?

  • Unfortunately I don't even know what an ablation is. It's not something that has been mentioned although the consultant did say that I would probably need an operation in about five years time. That would be for the leaky valve I presume.

  • Just found this article that does appear to confirm that acupuncture can be as effective as the commonly used drugs for AF. But I've only scanned through it, so worth reading properly. Sorry I forgot to paste it in and now lost it. I'll try later, but all I did was Google "acupuncture atrial fibrillation" then chose what looked like an official medical site.

    If you have AF, then I think you need to know what an ablation is. I've had two. First time for severe, constant and totally debilitating AF, it cured me 100% for 8 years. Now needs repeating, which is quite normal, although my symptoms aren't as bad as back then.

    Someone will come along and explain it, or you can look it up, it's key-hole surgery and is supposed to be better than drugs if you're a suitable candidate. Maybe you aren't, but nevertheless certainly worth asking and knowing what it is. Here's BMI's page on the ablations they do, although there are different types.

  • Thank you Koll

    I,ve looked at the BMI page. If I was eligible I would be very keen. I do have what seems to be called continuous AF and some wording seemed to imply that this procedure was intended to avoid slipping into continuous AF (that is if PAF is the same thing). As it hasn't been mentioned to me I presume it would be necessary to go privately so may not be an option on cost grounds but I will look it up some more. Thanks Maggie

  • Maggie, I can't see why you have to go private. Last time, 2 years ago, I paid for a private consultation with a BMI Electrophysiologist (£150???) to get the ball rolling as I was getting nowhere. He diagnosed very mild AF and I had the procedure carried out (by him) with the NHS. I now see him through the NHS for consultations / checkups as well, rather than going back and forth and making all the records complicated.

    Sorry slow replying. We've had our mains supply replaced by Western Power and when they changed over I lost my broadband for a few days. Ever so funny being without the web, had to watch the tele instead!

  • I also had a bad experience with aspirin. I had always taken it for migraine with no problems but one month on daily tiddly aspirin upset my stomach badly. I was concerned about starting on warfarin as it has a reputation of being an awful mither. I have been on it for 3 months and have had no problems whatsoever. You need to give it a chance - it's a great confidence booster.

  • In answer to your other question, acupuncture isn't a cure. It supports and enhances the treatment you get from your GP and cardiologist. I've read research that indicates that acupuncture helps the medicine do it's job. I've also spoken to people who said acupuncture can trip them back into NSR if they have it while in AF.

    I go every week or every other week as it helps me with anxiety and depression caused by my AF. It isn't a cure but it helps.

  • Hi Maggie and welcome

    Can I separate your question into two? acupuncture and warfarin?

    Firstly acupuncture, I don't doubt that there are many treatments out there which will alleviate AF and for some even maybe take away symptoms for a while, but a cure? No I don't think so in my opinion. In fact some eminent EPs even say there is no such thing as a cure for AF, merely treatments which will take away the symptoms for an increasingly longer time as the treatments seem to get better, and that includes ablation. Some find that balance through drug therapies, and some through surgical treatment, but many will revert at some point. At the Europe AF conference an American EP made exactly this point, he said he had patients who were symptom free for up to 8 to 10 years post ablation, but were they cured? It's an controversial point, and in fact catheter ablation as we now know it is only around 15 years old, so it's relatively new technology and still progressing very fast I am pleased to say. So by all means go and have acupuncture, but don't pin too much hope on a cure through it please.

    But perhaps more importantly the second point, warfarin, as others have said aspirin is almost useless as an anti coagulant for AF does nothing at all and can cause stomach bleeds as you have found out, but warfarin? well for most of us it's a complete non event, just take the tablets, get the blood test and then ignore it, nothing changes, no change of diets for most, no change of lifestyle and certainly very rarely any form of bleeds.

    Quite literally nothing to be scared of whatsoever, and certainly much much safer that high dose aspirin and for most of the people on this board, just a "non-event" another drug they take sure, but an easy one.

    Take care and be well


  • Thank you Japaholic and Ian for replying to my query. It is both useful and comforting to hear from yours and others experiences. I am someone who doesn't like to take drugs but at present seem to have to be taking several for various reasons. Probably what has really freaked me re warfarin plus omeprezole is my experience on aspirin and consequently distrust of the medics advice, after all I wouldn't even need the omeprezole were it not for the prescribed aspirin. Since getting these replies I feel the easiest so far the possibility of warfarin. Still a bit scared though!

    Thanks again


  • Hey Maggie, I really understand where you're coming from from the point of view of not taking bucketfuls of meds. When we have tried to live healthy lives it's a real shock when something goes wrong, isn't it? It just seems so unfair somehow! Let me give a little extra reassurance as regards WArfarin. Yes it's a bit hassley at first because of the need to get your INR (the rate at which your blood clots) within a certain range. This means regular fingerprick tests either at your local hospital or GP if they have a nurse qualified in this and the dose will be regulated week by week at first, then less frequently as your INR stabilises. Warfarin is widely prescribed and of the people I meet at my Warf clinic, none report side-effects.

    The protection it gives us is valuable and in my case definitely decreases the anxiety I have about the condition.

  • I'm just going onto warfarin too Maggie, as my doctor's decided to take me off aspirin. I'm really relieved about that because I understand it increases the chance of a bleed significantly without doing anything much for your stroke risk. At the moment it seems really a lot of hassle, visits to doctors and nurses and a 20-minute 'introduction' next week at which I get a yellow book (woo) in which I think the INR gets written down? I get a yellow book, anyway... Sounds like a lot of faff, but some good people here say it's easy enough in the end, so I believe them! Hopefully we will both be reporting back shortly on what a piece of cake it is :)

  • Give it a try, my acupuncturist said it should help, it did not in my case but he was aware of Afib and it's implications and we gave it a try. It did bring down the tachycardia temporarily (not high) which is often a trigger to my Afib.

    Good luck.

  • Sorry to hear your story but the advice given here is good. I would just like to add that if you are nervous about warfarin there is a machine you can buy which allows you to do your own testing (I do it in addition to hospital testing). It is the coaguchek machine and costs £299. You should be able to get the strips on prescription. It gives me peace of mind and is easy to use. When you go on warfarin you will be tested often until you are in range. Once that is achieved, testing is reduced to monthly or even bimonthly. I was not comfortable not knowing if it went out of range in between so that's why I got the machine. Hope all goes well for you. Marie

  • I agree with Bob - warfarin is a good drug and provides us with as much protection from stroke as we will ever get. Within our set INR limits it causes no problems with bleeding. Simply, you should be aware that any major cuts whilst gardening, cabinet making or turkey carving should be best avoided and guarded against! Wear or carry something that advises that you are on warfarin - just in case - and carry on as normal.

  • I would also agree that warfarin is an easy drug to take. I've been on it for a couple of weeks now and my INR has already stabilised. I lost my balance the other day and fell against the wall, hitting my head quite badly. I was really nervous because of the possibility of suffering a bleed but luckily all ok. The frequent blood tests can be time consuming but definitely put your mind at rest

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