AF Symposium 2015
Stimulating the Front Ear Flap Inhibits A-Fib
by Steve S. Ryan, PhD
One of the most surprising presentations was by Dr. Warren Jackman of the Un. of Oklahoma. He cited research in dogs where they inserted an electrode which stimulated the tragus (the flap at the front of the ear). This ear stimulation shortened the episodes of A-Fib and lengthened the atrial cycle. Preliminary clinical data indicates that this works in humans as well.
It seems strange that simply stimulating the ear would help A-Fib attacks, but the vagus nerve has a branch in the tragus (the front flap in the ear). Increasing vagal tone is similar to what yoga or meditation does. Dr. Jackman and his colleagues found that this low level ear vagal stimulation in dogs paced into A-Fib inhibited the autonomic ganglionated plexi and prevented atrial remodeling.
This discovery that stimulating the tragus in the ear can inhibit A-Fib is an astounding and new finding with far-reaching implications. Imagine some day simply inserting an A-Fib earpiece to inhibit or stop a paroxysmal A-Fib attack!
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