Stimulating Ear Nerves can Improve Heart Health: Study

Updated at: Aug 21, 2014
Stimulating Ear Nerves can Improve Heart Health: Study

A recent study done by a team of researchers at the University of Leeds found that stimulating the nerves of ears can show significant improvements in heart health.

Vasudha Bhat
LatestWritten by: Vasudha BhatPublished at: Aug 21, 2014

Ear Nerves StimulationThe researchers have recently found that stimulating the ear nerves can show significant improvements in the health of your heart.

During the study, a team of researchers at the University of Leeds made use of a standard TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine like the ones designed to give relief from labour pain to supply electrical pulses to the targus.
Targus is the small flap like structure of the ear placed immediately in front of the ear canal.

The stimulation caused created changes in the influence of nervous system on heart by reducing the amount of nervous signals that can cause stress on the failing hearts.

Professor Jim Deuchars, Professor of Systems Neuroscience at the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences said "you feel a bit of a tickling sensation in your ear when the TENS machine is on, but it is painless".

He added "it is early days - so far we have been testing this on healthy subjects - but we think it does have potential to improve the health of the heart and might even become part of the treatment for heart failure".

The study was conducted on 34 healthy participants and electrodes were applied to their ears. The TENS machines were then switched on for 15-minutes by the researchers.

The lead researcher of the study Dr Jennifer Clancy of the University of Leeds’ School of Biomedical Sciences said "the first positive effect we observed was increased variability in subjects' heartbeats. A healthy heart does not beat like a metronome".

"It is continually interacting with its environment - getting a little bit faster or a bit slower depending on the demands on it.

"An unhealthy heart is more like a machine constantly banging out the same beat. We found that when you stimulate this nerve you get about a 20 per cent increase in heart rate variability", added Clancy.

Another positive effect was seen in suppressing the nervous system, which directs the activity of heart using adrenaline.

Image courtesy: Getty Images

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