Chiropractic and Massage for High Blood Pressure?
Patients & Friends,
News that no one wants to hear is that they have high blood pressure, or what doctors refer to as hypertension. Thought to be associated with aging, lack of activity, smoking, poor so-called high fat diet, stress, genetics, and even kidney or thyroid problems, elevated blood pressure can lead to coronary events and stroke, among the most common causes of death. It may be one of the important “controllable” risk factors for these serious diseases.
Certainly the risks of death by heart attack, stroke and diabetes are nothing less than staggering for Mississippians, who lead the nation in these poor health categories.
For years chiropractors and massage therapists reported that regular chiropractic and massage may help control high blood pressure, but until recently there was little hard evidence.
Happily for those who see chiropractors and massage therapists, there is growing research support for use of these approaches as part of a program to improve overall health, including control of high blood pressure. For example, recent meta-analysis revealed small to medium effects of massage compared with placebo for high blood pressure. Studies of chiropractic have found similar effects including improvements in both systolic and diastolic measures when compared with placebo.
Smoking cessation, increased activity, weight loss, shifting to a more Mediterranean-type diet, and stress management are important ways to have a normal blood pressure. Medications may be needed when lifestyle changes alone fail to control high blood pressure. Regular chiropractic and massage, in addition to these other important lifestyle changes, can improve your blood pressure and promote a full, healthy life!
Robert A. Leach, DC, MS, FICC(h), CHES
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure, and another 1 in 3 have pre-hypertension. Mississippians are lead only by West Virginians in highest rate of hypertension, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes, top killers in the Magnolia State: http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_bloodpressure.htm
A recent meta-analysis of randomized control group trials of massage therapy by Liao, Chen, Wang and Tsai published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing found a medium effect of massage on systolic blood pressure (7 mm Hg), and a small effect of massage on diastolic blood pressure (5 mm Hg), in patients with hypertension or pre-hypertension randomized to massage therapy instead of control procedures: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25419947
In a preliminary provocative initial epidemiological inquiry, Hart found lower hypertension mortality rates in areas of the U.S. that in 2008 had higher densities of chiropractors. This could be explained by populations more open to dietary and exercise lifestyles more conducive to health, and not merely the result of direct benefits of chiropractic. Alternatively, if they help patients decrease their musculoskeletal pain so that they can increase their activity levels, chiropractors may indeed help lower rates of hypertension and have at least a secondary affect: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24298229
After removing 4 outliers who had extremely elevated body mass index, a sample of 24 African Americans had significant decrease in hypertension stage 1 for both systolic and diastolic blood pressures: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24294146
Of 208 studies identified, 10 high quality studies of chiropractic found reduction in both systolic (9.7 to 17.2 mm Hg for low risk of bias/unclear risk of bias) and diastolic blood pressures (9.0 to 13.0 mm Hg for low risk/unclear risk studies) in patients randomized to chiropractic, as opposed to placebo or other control groups. The researchers advocated for additional studies with low risk of bias: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22341795
Mississippi Chiropractic Association members, according to research by Leach, Cossman and Yates, advocate healthy lifestyle changes for high blood pressure endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21807263