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▸ Li P, Tjen-A-Looi SC, Cheng L, et al. Long-lasting reduction of blood pressure by electroacupuncture in patients with hypertension: randomized controlled trial. Med Acupunct 2015;27:253–66.
Randomised controlled trial (RCT) (n=65) comparing 5 Hz electroacupuncture (EA) stimulating different nerves (deep or superficial).
Sixty-five patients with mild to moderate hypertension (systolic blood pressure (BP) ≥140–180 mm Hg and/or diastolic BP 90–95 mm Hg) not currently on antihypertension medication were randomised to EA in two different point combinations. Patients were treated once per week for 8 weeks bilaterally at either PC5-6/ST36-37 (median nerve, deep peroneal nerve) or LI6-7/GB37-39 (superficial radial nerve, superficial peroneal nerve). Stimulation was at 5 Hz for 30 min at just below the motor threshold (1–2 mA). Adjacent pairs of points were connected electrically.
The main outcomes were peak and average systolic BP and diastolic BP, assessed by 24 h ambulatory monitoring before and after each treatment.
Three subgroups of patients continued further studies, by invitation. They either had a longer (2 month) follow-up with no further EA (n=21); or they crossed over to the other formula (n=17) after a 2 week washout period; or they continued EA for a further six sessions, monthly (responders only, n=7).
Additionally, changes in renin, aldosterone, norepinephrine, and epinephrine activity levels were measured.
The mean systolic and diastolic BPs in the two groups are shown in figure 1. Treatment at PC5-6/ST36-37 led to a significant decrease in systolic BP from the second treatment onwards, and diastolic BP from the third treatment. In contrast, treatment at LI6-7/GB37-39 led to no significant changes in BP. There were significant differences between the groups at the final reading (8 weeks). Similar changes were seen in the peak systolic BP and mean BP in the two groups. There was no change in heart rate.
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