Acupuncture For Patients With Mild Hypertension: A Randomized Controlled Trial
- Posted on: Apr 1 2021
This is a review of a randomized controlled trial that evaluated the efficacy of acupuncture for patients with mild hypertension conducted in China.
By Hitomi Asano L.Ac
Hypertension is one of the most prevalent risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Nearly half of the adults in the United States (108 million people) have hypertension; defined as systolic blood pressure (SBP) greater than 130 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) greater than 80 mm Hg by the American Heart Association (AMA).
The study recruited 428 patients diagnosed with mild hypertension (SBP of 140-159 mm Hg and/or DBP of 90-99 mm Hg) according to the Chinese guidelines. NOTE: The AMA categorizes SBP of 140-159 mm Hg and/or DBP of 90-99 mm Hg as stage 2 hypertension. These patients were randomly assigned to one of the two active acupuncture treatments, sham acupuncture, or waiting-list control group.
The study period for the trial consisted of 6-week treatment and 6-week follow-up. The patients in the two acupuncture groups or sham acupuncture group received 18 sessions of acupuncture in the 6-week treatment period (3 treatments/week). Patients in the waiting-list control group received no treatment during the study period, but they were given an option to receive 18 sessions of acupuncture treatment after they completed the trial.
The two treatments of active acupuncture were different in the selection of acupuncture points. Patients in the affected meridian acupuncture group received acupuncture at points in the Jueyin and Yangming meridian: ST9, LV3, PC6, KD3, LI11, and ST36. Patients in the non-affected meridian acupuncture group received acupuncture at points in the Shaoyang and Taiyin meridians: GB20, SJ5, SP9, SP10. The acupuncture points were bilaterally needled, with each point being punctured by two needles (main and auxiliary needles). The main and auxiliary needles were connected to an electrical stimulator (frequency: 2Hz; intensity: 2 mA) for 30 minutes.
The patients in the sham acupuncture group received the same procedure as those in the acupuncture group, except that they were needled at four sham acupuncture points.
Every participant took blood pressure measurements through 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) at weeks 0 (baseline), 6, 9, and 12; a total of 76 measurements were taken in 24 hours.
Participants receiving active acupuncture had a reduction in mean SBP at week 6 (7.2 mm Hg), week 9 (8.9 mm Hg), and week 12 (7.8 mm Hg). The sham acupuncture group had a reduction in mean SBP at week 6 (4.1 mm Hg), week 9 (5.4 mm Hg), and week 12 (4.6 mm Hg). The wait-list group had a reduction in mean SBP at week 6 (4.1 mm Hg), week 9 (3.9 mm Hg), and week 12 (3.0 mm Hg). Regarding the effect on SBP reduction, acupuncture was significantly better than both sham (P=0.035) and wait-list control (P<0.001) at week 9; the difference between acupuncture and wait-list control was statistically significant at week 12 (P=0.004). Regarding the effect on DBP reduction, acupuncture was significantly better than sham acupuncture (P=0.027) at week 6.
Acupuncture decreased SBP in patients with (AMA) stage 2 hypertension by nearly 8 mm Hg after the patients received 18 sessions of acupuncture in a 6-week treatment. The effect of SBP reduction sustained for another 6 weeks. Acupuncture treatments can help reduce blood pressure, specifically systolic blood pressure.
Zheng, Hui, et al. “Acupuncture for Patients with Mild Hypertension: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” The Journal of Clinical Hypertension, vol. 21, no. 3, 2019, pp. 412–420., doi:10.1111/jch.13490.
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