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Electroacupuncture May Ease Blood Pressure

In rats, needles with mild current cut hypertension in half

FRIDAY, April 8, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- In a study in rats, acupuncture that also delivers mild electric stimulation lowered blood pressure by as much as 50 percent.

Reporting in the March issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers at The University of California, Irvine (UCI) first tested rats with acupuncture alone and found it had no effect on blood pressure.

They then ran a mild electrical current through the acupuncture needles -- a technique called electroacupuncture. The researchers found that while high frequencies of electrical stimulation had no effect, lower frequencies reduced the rats' increased blood pressure by as much as 40 percent to 50 percent.

A 30-minute electroacupuncture treatment reduced the rats' blood pressure by 25 mmHg and the effect lasted for nearly two hours, the California team reported.

"This type of electroacupuncture is only effective on elevated blood pressure levels, such as those present in hypertension, and the treatment has no impact on standing blood pressure rates," study leader Dr. John C. Longhurst, director of UCI's Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine, said in a prepared statement.

"Our goal is to help establish a standard of acupuncture treatment that can benefit everyone who has hypertension and other cardiac ailments," Longhurst said.

He and his team are currently testing electroacupuncture in humans.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about controlling high blood pressure.

SOURCE: University of California, Irvine, news release, March 2005
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