The Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research published the results of a case study on January 18, 2021, documenting the improvement under chiropractic care of an elderly woman who was suffering with a lower heart rate that resulted in fatigue and lightheadedness.
The American Heart Association explains low heart rate by saying “Bradycardia is a heart rate that’s too slow. What’s considered too slow can depend on your age and physical condition. Elderly people, for example, are more prone to bradycardia. In general, for adults, a resting heart rate of fewer than 60 beats per minute (BPM) qualifies as bradycardia. But there are exceptions. Your heart rate may fall below 60 BPM during deep sleep. And physically active adults (and athletes) often have a resting heart rate slower than 60 BPM.”
The authors of this study explain the objective of this case study by stating “The purpose of this case report is to report on the positive health outcomes following chiropractic care in a patient presenting with a low heart rate and related symptoms.” They further explain how they use the heart rate as a measurement of health. “Heart rate variability (HRV) analysis has been determined to be an effective measurement of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). There are two branches of the autonomic nervous system, the parasympathetic (PNS) and sympathetic (SNS) nervous system. Heart rate variability analysis has been used to determine the balance between PNS and the SNS and their control over the body.”
In this case, a 74-year-old woman went to the chiropractor because she was having a low resting heart rate. She did not know why her problem started but she did report that she noticed the problem shortly after cataract surgery a few months prior. She often felt fatigued and lightheaded with these symptoms becoming more frequent. She also reported that when she sat down, she often fell asleep. She claims that she did not any of these symptoms prior to her surgery. The woman was on medication for high blood pressure and diabetes. Out of concern for the possibility of congestive heart failure, her MD ordered an angiogram which showed no heart damage.
A chiropractic examination was performed which included both musculoskeletal and neurological tests as well as postural analysis, spinal palpation, ranges of motion, and spinal x-rays. From these tests, it was determined that a subluxation was present at the top bone of her neck called the Atlas. A series of specific chiropractic adjustments were then given over the next month to address the subluxation.
After a week of care, the study records that the woman’s heart rate had started to increase. Follow-up x-rays also confirmed that the subluxation was improving. After a month of care, it was noted that the woman’s heart rate had improved by 40% over what it was initially before chiropractic care. The woman also reported that she was feeling more alert. After two months of chiropractic, the study reports that the woman’s heart rate had shown a 100% improvement. The woman noted that she was feeling stronger and less nervous overall.
Although many people initially think that chiropractic is just for back and neck problems, this study points out that growing research is showing chiropractic has an impact on overall health and body functions. The authors of the study explain, “Adjustments to the spine have been suggested to have positive effects on musculoskeletal and visceral health. There are few studies to link specific outcomes in autonomic function with certain spinal levels adjusted. Studies suggest change in autonomic function and the adjustment clearly has been associated with changes in heart rate, BP, pupillary diameter, distal skin temperature, endocrine system, and immune system effects.”