Research: FLACHSKAMPF and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 155

Abstract

FLACHSKAMPF and colleagues, Med Klinik 2, Universitatsklinikum Erlangen, Ulmenweg 18, 91054 Erlangen, Germany. frank.flachskampf@rzmail.uni-erlangen.de  write that 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. The authors investigated whether traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture is able to lower blood pressure.

Background

Methodology

The authors 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.

Results

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 post-treatment 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 pre-treatment levels in the active treatment group.

Conclusion

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.

References

Flachskampf FA,  Gallasch J,  Gefeller O,  Gan J,  Mao J,  Pfahlberg AB,  Wortmann A,  Klinghammer L,  Pflederer W, and  Daniel WG. Randomized trial of acupuncture to lower blood pressure.  Circulation 115(24): 3121-9. Jun 19 2007.

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