Long-Lasting Reduction of Blood Pressure by Electroacupuncture in Patients with Hypertension: Randomized Controlled Trial
Background: Acupuncture at specific acupoints has experimentally been found to reduce chronically elevated blood pressure.
Objective: To examine effectiveness of electroacupuncture (EA) at select acupoints to reduce systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressures (DBP) in hypertensive patients.
Design: Two-arm parallel study.
Patients: Sixty-five hypertensive patients not receiving medication were assigned randomly to one of the two acupuncture intervention (33 versus 32 patients).
Intervention: Patients were assessed with 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. They were treated with 30-minutes of EA at PC 5-6+ST 36-37 or LI 6-7+GB 37-39 once weekly for 8 weeks. Four acupuncturists provided single-blinded treatment.
Main outcome measures: Primary outcomes measuring effectiveness of EA were peak and average SBP and DBP. Secondary outcomes examined underlying mechanisms of acupuncture with plasma norepinephrine, renin, and aldosterone before and after 8 weeks of treatment. Outcomes were obtained by double-blinded evaluation.
Results: After 8 weeks, 33 patients treated with EA at PC 5-6+ST 36-37 had decreased peak and average SBP and DBP, compared with 32 patients treated with EA at LI 6-7+GB 37-39 control acupoints. Changes in blood pressures significantly differed between the two patient groups. In 14 patients, a long-lasting blood pressure–lowering acupuncture effect was observed for an additional 4 weeks of EA at PC 5-6+ST 36-37. After treatment, the plasma concentration of norepinephrine, which was initially elevated, was decreased by 41%; likewise, renin was decreased by 67% and aldosterone by 22%.
Conclusions: EA at select acupoints reduces blood pressure. Sympathetic and renin-aldosterone systems were likely related to the long-lasting EA actions.
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