Acupuncture/ pressureHeart Disease

Risk of cardiac tamponade with acupuncture

Cardiac tamponade (aka pericardial tamponade) is an emergency condition in which fluid accumulates in the pericardium (the sac in which the heart is enclosed).

Prof. Ernst and colleague reviewed the evidence.

First, the details.

  • All reported cases of cardiac tamponade after acupuncture were reviewed.

And, the results.

  • 26 cases of cardiac tamponade were reported.
  • In 14 patients, the complications were fatal.
  • In most instances, there was little doubt about causality.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Cardiac tamponade is a serious, often fatal complication after acupuncture. As it is theoretically avoidable, acupuncturists should be trained to minimize the risk.”

Patients, don’t get up after acupuncture until you confirm that all the needles are removed. Acupuncturists are unlikely to penetrate deep enough to puncture the heart. However, the pressure from putting on a shirt or jacket after the session might.

6/8/11 19:24 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.