Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy for heart health and cardiovascular diseases has seen recent and clinical trials. PEMF has been found to have benefits for vascular function, cardiac function and hypertension among heart diseases.
Let us learn more about heart health conditions and review the research on PEMF therapy for cardiac health and recovery from heart conditions.
Heart and heart diseases
The heart is robust and at the same time, a delicate system that allows you to live and breathe. The heart pumps oxygenated blood, hormones and nutrients to the body. It receives deoxygenated blood and removes carbon dioxide and waste products. A malfunctioning cardiac system can be critical, therefore maintaining heart health is necessary for survival. Recently scientists have been exploring the use of PEMF therapy for heart health, it improves blood circulation and oxygenation.
As per CDC, Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. People with heartburn, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, arrhythmia, high blood pressure or obesity are at high-risk of developing a heart disease. Can PEMF therapy help such conditions and prevent heart health problems in the future?
Heart attack (myocardial infarction), heart failure, angina, valve disease, atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease are the most common heart health conditions. Atherosclerosis, ischemic heart diseases, angina and coronary artery diseases occur due to plaque or narrow arteries. Heart muscle diseases due to inflammation or myocarditis arise from many causes including genetics, infections and substance abuse.
Could PEMF therapy have benefits in treatment or prevention of heart diseases? Let’s see the research studies to understand how it could work and the clinical trials to see the evidence.
Studies on effects of PEMF therapy on the heart
PEMF therapy improves blood circulation throughout the body and stimulates oxygenation in blood. It took a while for PEMF doctors and researchers to get to the heart as it’s such a sensitive and vital organ.
Proper β-adrenergic signalling is indispensable for modulating heart rate. In 2016, Italian scientists conducted a study on low-frequency PEMF and β-adrenergic signalling. They found that such PEMF therapy reduces cardiac β-adrenergic response at molecular, functional and adaptative levels1. In a cell and animal models, PEMF has been found to stimulate processes critical for angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels)2.
In 2007, scientists from Austria conducted a clinical trial to study the effects of PEMF therapy on heart rate variability. The studied the effects of 50 Gauss or 0.005 Tesla PEMFs after physical exercise. They concluded that PEMF accelerated recovery after exercise3. PEMF therapy has long been applied by athletes for reducing and recovering from sports injuries and improving ergogenic performance.
Patients with pace makers will not be able to use a PEMF device for the heart as it’s electromagnetic fields would interfere with the pacemaker electronics. PEMF is contraindicated to be used along with pacemakers. For patients with pacemakers, molecular hydrogen inhalation can be explored as it does not have such a contraindication. Hydrogen therapy has shown to have incredible heart health benefits.
In 2020, a collaborative study by scientists from Singapore, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy and United States found that after 4 months of 1.5 mT, 10 min/week PEMF treatment, it enhanced oxidative muscle expression, fatty acid oxidation, and reduced insulin levels4.
PEMF therapy for Hypertension
In matters of the heart, often less is more, and this is true in case of PEMF therapy for heart health. In 2011, the Japanese Society of Hypertension published the results of clinical trial utilizing 1 μT (0.01 Gauss), 6-8 Hz, 10-15 mins 2 times a week, 4 week study5. They found that at these parameters, PEMF can reduce blood pressure in mild to moderate hypertension.
In a trial by scientists from Minnesota and Arizona, PEMF demonstrated improvements in blood pressure and vascular function in hypertensive individuals6. These scientists also conducted another trial in 2020 to study the effects of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy on blood pressure and nitric oxide levels in patients with metabolic syndrome7. They concluded that hypertension patients may find increased nitric oxide availability and improvements in blood pressure with PEMF use.
Can PEMF therapy be used for treating heart conditions?
As evident from above studies, apart for hypertension there are no clinical studies for application of PEMF treatment for most other heart conditions. Indirect benefits to cardiovascular health or heart diseases may be possible due to PEMF therapy’s benefits for depression, immunity, anti-aging and pain relief. PEMF therapy can reduce Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)8 thereby helping recovery from many heart diseases9 not yet studied formally in a clinical setting. Also as PEMF therapy is known to induce vasodilation, it may reduce strain on the heart.
Treatment time, intensity of PEMFs and type of heart conditions are important factors for finding positive benefits of PEMF therapy for heart diseases and heart health. PEMF therapy is under constant research and development, and we can expect that in the near future this technology will be further optimized and tried clinically for prevention and treatment of heart diseases.
- 1.Cornacchione M, Pellegrini M, Fassina L, et al. β-Adrenergic response is counteracted by extremely-low-frequency pulsed electromagnetic fields in beating cardiomyocytes. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2016;98:146-158. doi:10.1016/j.yjmcc.2016.07.004
- 2.Tepper O, Callaghan M, Chang E, et al. Electromagnetic fields increase in vitro and in vivo angiogenesis through endothelial release of FGF-2. FASEB J. 2004;18(11):1231-1233. doi:10.1096/fj.03-0847fje
- 3.Grote V, Lackner H, Kelz C, et al. Short-term effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields after physical exercise are dependent on autonomic tone before exposure. Eur J Appl Physiol. Published online August 3, 2007:495-502. doi:10.1007/s00421-007-0520-x
- 4.Tai Y, Ng C, Purnamawati K, et al. Magnetic fields modulate metabolism and gut microbiome in correlation with Pgc-1α expression: Follow-up to an in vitro magnetic mitohormetic study. FASEB J. 2020;34(8):11143-11167. doi:10.1096/fj.201903005RR
- 5.Nishimura T, Tada H, Guo X, et al. A 1-μT extremely low-frequency electromagnetic field vs. sham control for mild-to-moderate hypertension: a double-blind, randomized study. Hypertens Res. 2011;34(3):372-377. doi:10.1038/hr.2010.246
- 6.Stewart GM, Wheatley‐Guy CM, Johnson BD, Shen WK, Kim C. Impact of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy on vascular function and blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. J Clin Hypertens. Published online May 13, 2020:1083-1089. doi:10.1111/jch.13877
- 7.Kim C, Wheatley-Guy C, Stewart G, Yeo D, Shen W, Johnson B. The impact of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy on blood pressure and circulating nitric oxide levels: a double blind, randomized study in subjects with metabolic syndrome. Blood Press. 2020;29(1):47-54. doi:10.1080/08037051.2019.1649591
- 8.Ehnert S, Fentz A-K, Schreiner A, et al. Extremely low frequency pulsed electromagnetic fields cause antioxidative defense mechanisms in human osteoblasts via induction of •O2 − and H2O2. Sci Rep. Published online November 6, 2017. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-14983-9
- 9.Moris D, Spartalis M, Spartalis E, et al. The role of reactive oxygen species in the pathophysiology of cardiovascular diseases and the clinical significance of myocardial redox. Ann Transl Med. 2017;5(16):326. doi:10.21037/atm.2017.06.27