Chiropractic Management of Hypertention

A new clinical trial from the Rush University Hypertension Center in Chicago, published in March in the ‘Journal of Human Hypertension’, reports that chiropractic upper cervical adjustment to correct the position and function of the atlas vertebra can significantly lower blood pressure in patients with Stage-1 hypertention.
The chiropractic technique studied “has the effect of not one but two blood pressure medications given in combination” says principal investigator Professor George Bakris, Director of the Rush University Hypertension Center. George Bakris, MD from the Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago.
“And it seems to be adverse-event free. We saw no side effects and no problems”.

Those in the treatment group had significantly lower blood pressure than the similar patients in the placebo or sham chiropractic adjustment group. In comparison with the sham-treated patients, those who received the trial treatment showed an average 14 mm Hg greater drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure count) and an average 8 mm HG greater drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom blood pressure number).

The atlas vertebra realigned following one or more chiropractic adjustments.
Results were maintained the 8 weeks study period.
None of the patients took blood pressure medicine during the 8 week study, none of them had any adverse events.

The atlas vertebra (C1), is positioned immediately under the skull or occiput and at the top of the cervical spine. Also positioned around the top of the spinal cord and just below the lower brainstem (medulla oblongata). This means that minor misalignment of the atlas as Bakris, Dickholtz et al. point out in their new study, has the potential to compress and compromise neural pathways and associated arteries in the spinal cord and brainstem.

A relationship between hypertension and abnormalities in the circulatory/arterial system in the area common to the atlas and brainstem has been known to medical researchers for over 40 years. Jannetta et al. observed artial compression of the medulla oblongata in 51 of 53 (96%) of hypertensive patients who were undergoing crainiectomy and microvascular decompression surgery for unrelated problems. There was no such compression in normotensive patients. As result they performed vascular decompression of the medulla in 42 of the hypertensive patients – and this reduced the hypertension for the great majority (32 or 76%).

– Bakris G. Dickholtz M et al. (2007) Atlas Vertebra Realignment and Achievement of Arterial Pressure Goal in Hypertensive Patients: A Pilot Study, Journal of Human Hypertension, 1-7.
– DeNoon DJ, Chiropractic Cuts Blood Pressure, WebMD Medical News, March 16, 2007.

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