On average, our heart beats 2.5 billion times in one lifetime and has a never-ending workload. It provides all the tissue in our body with oxygen, hormones, and essential nutrients through the blood. It also removes the waste products of metabolism.
For many people, the heart performs optimally for a long time. For others who do not give it the care it needs, it can also fail.
Heart diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, with an estimated 17.9 million people falling prey to it annually. Death related to heart diseases accounts for 32% of the global mortality. (1)
Anyone can get heart disease, but it is more likely if you are overweight or obese, your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels are high, if you smoke, lead a sedentary lifestyle or eat too much unhealthy food.
The good news about heart disease is that it can be prevented. Eating heart-healthy food can help lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Food low in sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars, and high in fibers and unsaturated fats can keep your heart happy. Regular physical activity, managing your stress, and staying away from cigarettes and alcohol can also decrease your chances of getting heart diseases. (2)
Apart from leading an active lifestyle and dietary modifications, there are other ways to prevent heart diseases. Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy or PEMF is one such therapeutic option that certainly deserves some attention.
What Is PEMF?
Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy, also known as low field magnetic stimulation, makes use of the electromagnetic field to improve cellular function and support overall wellness.
The cells in our bodies are constantly working, and by the end of the day, they can feel tired, overused, and drained of energy. PEMF therapy can generate energy in our cells by amplifying our natural energies. This will encourage our bodies to perform more effectively.
PEMF is a groundbreaking and versatile medical technology beneficial to both humans and animals. Veterinarians first used PEMF therapy in racehorse injuries and with time human applications are getting more attention.
PEMF therapy has been widely used in modern medicine. It has been an FDA-approved form of treatment for over 40 years and is approved for the treatment of musculoskeletal diseases, urological conditions, mental health disorders, and cancer among many other uses. (3,4)
How Does Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy Work?
To understand how PEMF therapy works, let us think that our cells are like rechargeable batteries and PEMF as a battery charger. When the voltage of our cells drops below a certain level, they are unable to function properly. The cells cannot heal and become sick eventually.
PEMF therapy sends magnetic energy waves into the cells of our body. These waves work with the natural magnetic field of the body to increase intracellular ions and electrolytes. The mild or low field electromagnetic current influences the cellular electric charges. It impacts the metabolism of the cells and works towards recovery.
Our brain and body communicate through electric signals. PEMF therapy can realign the electricity in the cells and can induce bioelectric currents in the tissues. Stimulation of the cells allows the entry of cations, causing the inside of the cells to be positively charged. This triggers other electrical currents, eventually generating pulses.
PEMF stops or slows the release of pain and inflammatory mediators. They reestablish normal interaction of the cells, increase cellular blood flow, and improve healing. PEMF therapy also helps restore any disruption of the electric current which may otherwise lead to illness or dysfunction.
The exact mechanism by which PEMF works at a cellular or molecular level is still a topic of debate. (5,6)
What Are The Uses Of PEMF?
- To improve wound healing by increasing local blood flow and delivery of oxygen and nutrient
- To reduce stress and promote relaxation
- For muscle conditioning
- To improve physical fitness and performance
- To correct cellular dysfunction by restoring vitality and well-being
- To improve muscular strength, endurance, and energy (3,4,6)
What Are The Benefits Of PEMF Therapy For The Heart?
PEMF therapy can improve heart health both directly and indirectly. Some of the pulsed electromagnetic field therapy benefits are:
PEMF May Improve Blood Pressure
Elevated blood pressure levels increase the workload of the heart, thus increasing the risk for various heart diseases. Studies have shown that PEMF therapy for twelve weeks can improve vascular function and blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. It is potentially a simple and non-invasive treatment option to improve peripheral vascular functions and blood pressure both during rest and exercise. (7,8)
PEMF Can Promote Angiogenesis
PEMF therapy has been shown to stimulate angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels, after a heart attack. This improves cardiac function and can be beneficial in the treatment of heart attack. (9)
PEMF Can Improve Heart Rate Variations
Heart rate variability is the variation in the time interval between heartbeats. It determines how adaptable your heart and body are to changing scenarios. The greater the magnitude of heart rate variation, the better it can adjust to a stressful situation. People with low heart rate variability are less resilient and prone to develop high blood pressure, anxiety, and irregular heartbeats.
PEMF therapy, even for 20 minutes, has been shown to improve heart rate variability in healthy individuals. (10)
PEMF Can Reduce Stress
Stress is one of the biggest challenges that we face today. Excessive stress can harm our bodies in so many different ways and can cause reactions like increased heart rate. It can also lead to high blood pressure, lower good cholesterol, and may even trigger irregular heartbeats.
Anxiety and stress can even directly contribute to heart attacks. PEMF protects heart health by reducing the effects of stress. (11)
Research has shown that PEMF therapy can alter stress responses by acting on various cells, tissues, organs, and systems including the nervous system. PEMF inhibits the activation of the sympathetic system and adrenal glands. The sympathetic system releases adrenaline as a response to stress. This is the “fight or flight” response that elevates blood pressure and heart rate.
PEMF can also decrease the excitability of the nervous system and the emotional reactions associated with stress. Long-term use of PEMF can also help the body blunt hyperactive tissues so that with time they become less reactive.
PEMF Improves Cardiac Function
PEMF treatment preserves the contractility of the heart. It can also prevent the death of cardiac cells following a heart attack. This is achieved by decreasing the susceptibility of cardiac cells to the damage caused by reduced blood supply during a heart attack. It also opens up the Calcium channels in the heart that are essential for the heart to contract and remain viable. (12)
PEMF Reduces Inflammation
Chronic inflammation plays a pivotal role in the development of atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty deposits in the arterial wall. This is an enticing event in heart attack and stroke. (13)
Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated that PEMF is successful in lowering inflammation. It stops the release of inflammatory mediators, prevents the buildup of inflammatory fluid, strengthens the immune system, and increases the blood flow to the cells. (14)
Are There Any Side Effects Of PEMF Therapy?
PEMF therapy is a non-invasive and safe therapy. There are no significant adverse effects reported with the use of PEMF. However, some pulsed electromagnetic field therapy side effects are:
- A decline in blood sugar levels
- A temporary increase in pain
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased urination
- Loss of energy
- Fatigue on exertion
- Decreased blood pressure
- Lack of interest in day to day activities
The side effects associated with PEMF therapy decrease or disappear with the progression of therapy as your body becomes accustomed to it.
Who Should Not Use PEMF Therapy?
Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy contraindications are:
- People who have implanted electronic devices (defibrillator, pacemaker, cochlear hearing device)
- Pregnant women
- People who are actively bleeding
How Long Do The Benefits Of PEMF Therapy Last?
The benefits of PEMF therapy last for many hours to days and will depend upon the circumstances and condition for treatment. The effects are cumulative and will build over time.
For chronic conditions, it may take a week or two for the benefits to be visible.
PEMF therapy should not be used more than once daily. Use it twice a week for best results.
What Does PEMF Therapy Feel Like?
The pulses of PEMF therapy are painless and feel like someone is gently poking you. The therapy may last anywhere between 30 minutes to several hours.
Can You Do PEMF Therapy At Your Home?
Traditionally PEMF therapy devices are used by primary care physicians, orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, and physical therapists. Depending upon your condition, your healthcare provider may also prescribe a PEMF therapy device for home use.
At-home PEMF therapy devices are portable and are convenient to use according to your schedule.
The awareness and popularity of PEMF therapy have increased significantly over the last couple of years. The health advantages of PEMF are numerous ranging from pain management to reducing inflammation. It is a non-invasive, safe, and effective therapy that benefits the heart by improving blood pressure, heart rate variation, and cardiac function. It also promotes the growth of new blood vessels and reduces inflammation and stress that contribute to a heart attack.
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