The popularity of chiropractic care has grown dramatically since the middle of the 20th century. Although most people seek chiropractic treatment to relieve musculoskeletal pain, certain types of pain may be indicative of the patient experiencing a heart attack just before or during treatment.
Chiropractors should expect to have at least one presentation of a myocardial infarction, or heart attack, during their careers, according to chiropractor Dr. Dwain M. Daniel. Research indicates that regular chiropractic adjustments may prevent heart attacks, lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate, relieve chest pain and support the cardiovascular system, according to the Palmer Chiropractic College.
Studies at the College investigated the effects of chiropractic treatment on the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems in reference to an analysis of heart rate variability. Findings indicated that chiropractic adjustments do reduce pain and lower participant's mean heart rate.
Additionally, anecdotal evidence indicates that adjustments of the atlas, or first cervical vertebra, may stop some heart attacks while they are occurring, according to chiropractor, Dr. Christopher Clarke of the Vibrance Family Chiropractic Center in Nashville. If a patient experiences a heart attack during an adjustment, gentle manipulation of the atlas may be appropriate and may alter the outcome; however, other emergency measures must be performed in an attempt to save a patient's life, including transport to the nearest medical facility. There are few studies on this fascinating aspect of chiropractic and additional research is necessary.