Acupuncture therapy for essential hypertension: a network meta-analysis

Xiaodong Tan, Yujing Pan, Wei Su, Shaoyu Gong, Hongjun Zhu, Hao Chen, Shu Lu


Background: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of acupuncture therapies for the treatment of essential hypertension.
Methods: We performed a systematic electronic search of PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Library, Chinese Biomedical Literature Database (CBM), Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), and Wan-fang Data Database. The main outcome indicators measured were the amount of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), a change of blood pressure, and the response rate. STATA15.0 software was used for the network meta-analysis.
Results: A total of 31 trials with 2,649 patients were included. Patients were allocated to 15 kinds of interventions. These including acupuncture types were electroacupuncture, moxibustion, warm needle therapy, sham acupuncture, behavioral therapy, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs), angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), calcium channel blocker (CCB), beta-blocker, acupuncture combined ACEI, acupuncture combined CCB, acupuncture combined behavior, electroacupuncture combined CCB, and non-treatment. The results of the network meta-analysis showed that there was no significant clinical or statistic difference in systolic blood pressure (SBP) change magnitude between acupuncture treatment and the other 14 therapies. Moxibustion may be better than acupuncture in reducing diastolic blood pressure (DBP) [mean difference (MD): 15.9, 95% confidence interval (CI): 5.96–25.85]. There was no significant difference in reducing DBP between acupuncture and the other 13 interventions. The effective rate of acupuncture combined with AECI [odds ratio (OR) =7.96, 95% CI: 1.11–56.92] and acupuncture combined with behavioral therapy (OR =3.53, 95% CI: 1.08–11.51) in treating hypertension was better than that of acupuncture alone, and there was no statistically significant difference in the effective rate between acupuncture and the other therapies.
Conclusions: The existing evidence shows that acupuncture could be used for treating hypertension, and it may have the same effects as common medication. However, due to the low qualities of the original studies, the quality of this evidence is poor. Therefore, it is recommended that more scientific research be performed to confirm the efficacy of acupuncture.