A small study suggests that acupuncture lowers blood pressure, but only slightly, which could in itself still be beneficial if properly combined with a change in lifestyle. It might reduce the need for medication, especially in the elderly who might be more vulnerable to the possible side effects.
An reported 70 million adults in the United States suffer from high blood pressure, among which only half of them have the condition under the control of medication or are acknowledging a need to change their daily routine. This would include taking medication or exercising to become better fit in order to avoid later complications, such as heart problems or suffering a stroke.
Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have gathered up a number of 65 patients suffering from high blood pressure, who reportedly were not under any sort of treatment for their condition. For the sake of the study, ‘high blood pressure’ fell between the 140-180 mm Hg over 90-99 mm Hg.
Guiding themselves after previous studies, researchers had the patients undergo 8 weekly sessions of “electroacupuncture”, which implied 30 minutes of the needles carrying a low-level electric stimulation to certain parts of the body. They separated the patients into two groups to further devise which areas are better stimulated.
The first group saw needles pricking the skin of their wrists and below their knees, and the second good had the same treatment in their forearms and lower legs. The latter resulted in no improvement in blood pressure levels, but the first saw a bit of a change in the heightened numbers.
According to lead author of the study, Dr. John Longhurst, a cardiologist at the university, the levels saw a slight decrease following the eight week-long program. Patients saw an improvement between 6 and 8 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure, and 4 mm Hg for diastolic blood pressure.
In spite of the fact that the changes were slow, they were long lasting, and the effects of the acupuncture sessions were still present after six weeks. Patients who continued to undergo a monthly treatment for the next six months saw even better results.
While there is a possibility of acupuncture being an additional solution to already considered and active treatments, researchers have claimed that the matter requires further study.
According to Dr. Randall Zusman, from the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center, “the outcomes are interesting and exciting” in spite of not being fully researched, and could pave the way for future approved solutions.
The average acupuncture session costs between $60 to $120, but your insurance might even cover it, so perhaps there will be no reason for patients with high blood pressure to try it. Except probably an inborn fear of needles.
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