A group of American researchers have found that electro-acupuncture (EA) has a significant and long-lasting blood pressure–lowering effect in hypertensive patients with chronically elevated blood pressure (BP). Sixty-five patients with mild to moderate hypertension not receiving medication were randomly assigned to one of two acupuncture interventions. They were treated once weekly for eight weeks with 30-minutes of EA at either a set of active treatment acupoints (Jianshi P-5 – Neiguan P-6, plus Zusanli ST-36 – Shangjuxu ST-37) or a set of control acupoints (Pianli L.I.-6 – Wenliu L.I.-7, plus Guangming GB-37- Xuanzhong GB-39). Patients were assessed with 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. After eight weeks of treatment, 70% of patients in the treatment group were found to have achieved a significant decrease in peak and average systolic and diastolic BP – an average of 6 to 8 mmHg for systolic blood pressure and 4 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure. These improvements persisted for a month and a half. In the treatment group plasma levels of noradrenalin (which constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure and blood glucose levels) – which were initially elevated – were shown to have decreased by 41%. Plasma levels of renin (an enzyme produced in the kidneys that helps control blood pressure) also fell by 67%, while levels of aldosterone (a hormone that regulates electrolytes) declined by 22%. No consequential blood pressure changes were found in the group who received electro-acupuncture at the control acupoints. Although the blood pressure reductions in the active treatment group were relatively small, they were clinically meaningful, and the authors not that the technique could be especially useful in treating systolic hypertension in patients over 60. Since EA was demonstrated to decrease both peak and average systolic blood pressure over 24 hours, the researchers concluded that it may help decrease the risk for stroke, peripheral artery disease, heart failure and myocardial infarction in hypertensive patients.
Long-Lasting Reduction of Blood Pressure by Electroacupuncture in Patients with Hypertension: Randomized Controlled Trial. Medical Acupuncture, 2015 Aug 18; 27(4): 253.