Randomized Trial of Acupuncture to Lower Blood Pressure
Background— Arterial hypertension is a prime cause of morbidity and mortality in the general population. Pharmacological treatment has limitations resulting from drug side effects, costs, and patient compliance. Thus, we investigated whether traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture is able to lower blood pressure.
Methods and Results— We randomized 160 outpatients (age, 58±8 years; 78 men) with uncomplicated arterial hypertension in a single-blind fashion to a 6-week course of active acupuncture or sham acupuncture (22 sessions of 30 minutes’ duration). Seventy-eight percent were receiving antihypertensive medication, which remained unchanged. Primary outcome parameters were mean 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure levels after the treatment course and 3 and 6 months later. One hundred forty patients finished the treatment course (72 with active treatment, 68 with sham treatment). There was a significant (P<0.001) difference in posttreatment blood pressures adjusted for baseline values between the active and sham acupuncture groups at the end of treatment. For the primary outcome, the difference between treatment groups amounted to 6.4 mm Hg (95% CI, 3.5 to 9.2) and 3.7 mm Hg (95% CI, 1.6 to 5.8) for 24-hour systolic and diastolic blood pressures, respectively. In the active acupuncture group, mean 24-hour ambulatory systolic and diastolic blood pressures decreased significantly after treatment by 5.4 mm Hg (95% CI, 3.2 to 7.6) and 3.0 mm Hg (95% CI, 1.5 to 4.6), respectively. At 3 and 6 months, mean systolic and diastolic blood pressures returned to pretreatment levels in the active treatment group.
Conclusions— Acupuncture according to traditional Chinese medicine, but not sham acupuncture, after 6 weeks of treatment significantly lowered mean 24-hour ambulatory blood pressures; the effect disappeared after cessation of acupuncture treatment.
Received August 27, 2006; accepted March 28, 2007.