Acupuncture for essential hypertension

Int J Cardiol. 2013 Nov 20;169(5):317-26. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2013.09.001. Epub 2013 Sep 6.


Background: To systematically assess the current clinical evidence of acupuncture for hypertension.

Search strategy: The PubMed, EMBASE, Chinese Biomedical Literature Database (CBM), Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), Chinese Scientific Journal Database (VIP), and Wan-fang Data in the Cochrane Library were searched until January, 2013. All the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) based on acupuncture compared with western medicine, sham acupuncture or lifestyle intervention in patients with hypertension were included. RCTs were included as well as combined acupuncture with western medicine compared with western medicine. In addition, RCTs based on acupuncture compared with sham acupuncture combined with western medicine in patients with essential hypertension were included. No language restriction was used. Review Manager 5.1 software was used for data analysis. Study selection, data extraction, quality assessment, and data analyses were conducted according to the Cochrane standards.

Results: 35 randomized trials (involving 2539 patients) were included. The methodological quality of the included trials was evaluated as generally low. Two trials reported the effect of acupuncture compared with sham acupuncture in combinations of western medicine. Acupuncture significantly reduced SBP (-7.47 mmHg, 95% CI - 10.43 to -4.5, P<0.00001) and DBP (-4.22 mmHg, 95% CI - 6.26 to -2.18, P<0.0001) and no heterogeneity between studies was detected. However, other studies had substantial heterogeneity due to the quality of them was poor, and their sample sizes were not satisfactory as an equivalence study. Five trials described the adverse effects.

Conclusions: While there are some evidences that suggest potential effectiveness of acupuncture for hypertension, the results were limited by the methodological flaws of the studies. Therefore, further thorough investigation, large-scale, proper study designed, randomized trials of acupuncture for hypertension will be required to justify the effects reported here.

Keywords: Acupuncture; Blood pressure; Hypertension; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Essential Hypertension
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / physiopathology*
  • Hypertension / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods