- This Cochrane review of randomized controlled trials of acupuncture for hypertension finds no evidence that acupuncture lowers BP.
- Even short-term effects are “uncertain,” say these authors.
- An effect detected in trials without sham acupuncture control suggests bias.
Why this matters
- Acupuncture is a popular nonpharmaceutical intervention that some believe reduced BP.
- An ineffective intervention leaves people with hypertension at continued risk for strokes and heart attacks.
- 4 of 22 trials used sham acupuncture; these found minimal, short-term effects (in hours) in reducing BP: systolic reduction, −3.4 (95% CI, −6.0 to −0.9) mmHg; diastolic: −1.9 (−3.6 to −0.3) mmHg.
- Some trials compared acupuncture to angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, others to calcium antagonists, with some results suggesting short-term effects, but bias risk was “very high.”
- Remaining trials were poor quality, showed no evidence of long-term BP effect.
- Safety was not assessable.
- Review of 22 trials, n=1744.
- Funding: National Basic Research Program and National Natural Science Foundation of China.
- Limitations are those of the included trials and include high bias and poor quality.