Society for Acupuncture Research Poster 2013: Profound Responders and HRV
Clinical Acupuncture Case Study: Profound Responders and Heart Rate Variability Analysis
Purpose: Acupuncture is a subtle intervention that can result in dramatic physical response. Considered in the context of complexity theory, acupuncture exhibits nonlinearity, i.e. the degree of response can far exceed the magnitude of the input. Heart rate is affected moment by moment by complex multiple physiological inputs and hence is also complex. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a problematic but potentially sophisticated measure of inputs to heart rate, most notably sympathetic and parasympathetic autonomic tone. HRV exhibits nonlinear and fractal characteristics. In this study, HRV data from a group of patients considered to be “profound responders” is evaluated retrospectively. These patients exhibited rapid and dramatic response to treatment regardless of their age or chronicity of their condition. This study focused on the HRV response during treatment to determine if there is there anything characteristic in these patients’ HRV response that would predict their outsized and remarkable clinical response.
Methods: 12 patients presenting to a private acupuncture clinic were studied retrospectively after having had profound clinical response. All received body acupuncture prescribed by the tenets of Traditional Chinese Medicine, according to their presenting pattern and diagnosis. Outcome measures were patients’ assessments of progress and functionality. Heart rate was measured during treatment after needles were placed. The data analysis was performed with Vivosense software with artifact management. LFR/HFR (Low frequency to high frequency ratio), Sample Entropy, pnn50, (non-normalized) HF, and SD1/SD2 readings were analyzed. These results were compared to 18 partial or non-responder patients.
Results: Data analysis showed 11 out of 12 patients exhibited an increase in HRV from the first to the second 10 minute segment. The most consistent measurement was the LFR/HFR measurement.
Conclusion: Clinical utility of HRV is limited but nonetheless provocative in its potential to provide a biomarker of effective acupuncture treatment, perhaps because of its nonlinear characteristics.