Heart Qi Deficiency

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At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 心气虚      Pinyin name: Xīn Qì Xū

Pattern nature: Empty

Pattern hierarchy: Specific pattern under Qi Deficiency

Common combinations: Lung and Heart Qi Deficiency

Causes

Precursor patterns: Kidney Qi not Firm Spleen Qi Deficiency Spleen Yang Deficiency and five other possible precursors

Common causes: 1. Excessive emotions, 2. Blood loss

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Fatigue Pale face Palpitations Spontaneous sweating Shortness of breath on exertion

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu)

Tongue description: Pale or normal colour; midline crack to tip with swelling on each side in more severe cases

Treatment

Common formulas: Bao Yuan Tang

Pathology

Heart Qi Deficiency includes general signs of Qi deficiency (such as shortness of breath, spontaneous sweating, pale face and fatigue) with the addition of palpitations, which is the characteristic symptom of Heart Qi Deficiency.

"Palpitations" here indicates a subjective feeling of the patient being aware of their heart beating in an uncomfortable way. It has nothing to do with the actual rhythm or pace of the heart. The patient may describe their "palpitations" as their heart beating unusually rapidly but it might just be an impression. Vice versa, someone’s pulse may be actually beating more rapidly than usual but, if they are not aware of it, this symptom would not be defined as "palpitations".

Causes

Precursor patterns: Heart Qi Deficiency can derive from Kidney Qi not Firm Spleen Qi Deficiency Spleen Yang Deficiency Spleen Qi Sinking Kidney Qi Deficiency Gallbladder Deficiency Spleen Blood Deficiency Spleen not controlling Blood

Excessive emotions: Excessive or prolonged emotions, particularly sadness or grief, can cause Heart Qi Deficiency

Blood loss: Sudden blood loss (from a traumatic injury for instance) or chronic blood loss from a health condition such as menorrhagia. This is because Blood nourishes Qi: any severe or prolonged blood loss will cause a deficiency of Heart-Blood, which, in turn, will lead to deficiency of Heart-Qi.

Diagnosing Heart Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu)

Tongue description: Pale or normal colour; midline crack to tip with swelling on each side in more severe cases

Main symptoms: Fatigue Pale face Palpitations Spontaneous sweating Shortness of breath on exertion

Diagnosis commentary: In severe cases, the pulse could feel slightly Overflowing and Empty (i.e. it feels very superficial and somewhat pounding with a light pressure of the finger but empty with a heavier pressure). The key symptoms are the palpitations, the fatigue and the Empty pulse.

Treating Heart Qi Deficiency

Herbal formulas used to treat Heart Qi Deficiency

Bao Yuan Tang

Source date: 1624

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies the Qi and warms the Yang.

Formula summary

Bao Yuan Tang is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1624, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Qi.

Besides Heart Qi Deficiency, Bao Yuan Tang is also used to treat Lung and Heart Qi Deficiency.

Read more about Bao Yuan Tang

Diet recommendations

In terms of diet, it is recommended to eat only cooked foods as well as warm or room temperature drinks. Whole grains, protein, legumes (especially aduki beans), lots of vegetables and congee are important. Make sure you eat three meals, or more as needed, per day. Do not skip meals. Avoid raw and cold foods and juices. 

It is important to work on and resolve any emotional issues that might have caused Heart Qi Deficiency, especially sadness and grief. 

Avoid excessive work and excessive sexual activity and get plenty of rest.

Consequence patterns

Heart Yang Deficiency

If left untreated Heart Qi Deficiency can lead to Heart Yang Deficiency

Lung Qi Deficiency

Heart Qi Deficiency may lead to Lung Qi Deficiency, especially when there is emotional stress

Heart Qi Stagnation

When Heart Qi is Deficient, it is not able to circulate properly. Therefore, Qi stagnates as a result.