Chiropractic Care & High Blood Pressure

Modern life can be very hectic with work and family commitments, endless emails, and constant messages coming through on our phones. When we get stressed out, our blood pressure can rise and we can develop hypertension, which isn’t good for our health.  When things get too much for us, we sometimes forget to pay enough attention to looking after ourselves, and we may eat and drink too much and not do enough exercise. If this goes on for too long, it can have an impact on our health. In particular, it can lead to high blood pressure.1

Do you feel busy or stressed out, or that there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done?

This can be a real problem because high blood pressure, or hypertension, is a risk factor for stroke and other heart diseases that play a role in about 1 in 5 deaths worldwide. 1

For people with high blood pressure, usually, the best thing they can do to help themselves is to make changes to their lifestyle, like reducing the amount of salt they eat, getting active, drinking less alcohol, and eating a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables.2 And these lifestyle modifications often work as well as, or better than, taking blood pressure drugs.One other healthcare option that some people turn to when they have it is chiropractic care.

Journal of Human Hypertension Study

This may be because of a study that reported some quite startling results that were published in the Journal of Human Hypertension and gained quite a lot of exposure in the press when it was published.4

In this study, researchers did a randomized controlled trial with 50 patients with early-stage high blood pressure. Half of them received specific chiropractic care that focused on the top of their neck for 8 weeks, and the other half received sham care, or pretend chiropractic care. The researchers were interested in seeing whether the group that received real chiropractic care had a significant reduction in blood pressure compared to the control group. 

After 8 weeks, the patients that received chiropractic care showed a significant drop in blood pressure compared to those that received pretend chiropractic care. The average decrease for the real adjustment group was an extraordinary 17 mmHg for systolic blood pressure and 10 mmHg for their diastolic blood pressure. This improvement is similar to what happens when 2 different blood pressure drugs are given together.

The patients that received the real chiropractic care showed a significant drop in blood pressure

So, this study got some remarkable results, but like all studies, it has its limitations. For example, it studied an uncommon type of chiropractic technique that was provided by only a single chiropractor. It was also unclear how sound the methods of the study were, and follow-up studies have failed to find the same results.3

So, research reviews point out that more good quality research is needed to be done to better understand the effects of different types of chiropractic techniques and whether they really have an impact on blood pressure or not.5-6 But, this single study does suggest that, for some people with hypertension, it appears that some types of chiropractic care may help them to better control their blood pressure. 

Remember that the chiropractor isn’t directly trying to treat their blood pressure. Instead, they’re trying to improve spinal function, with the aim of improving your brain’s ability to regulate what’s going on in your body. And for some people, this may influence their blood pressure.

So, if you’re feeling stressed out, over-busy, or aren’t looking after yourself as well as you could, then take some steps towards living a healthier lifestyle and get your spine checked by a chiropractor, so you can function at your best.

  1. Lackland & Weber. Global burden of cardiovascular disease and stroke: Hypertension at the core. The Canadian Journal of Cardiology 2015;31(5):569-71.
  2. Whelton et al. Jama 2002;288(15):1882-8.
  3. Williams et al. J Hum Hypertens 2004;18(3):139-85.
  4. Bakris et al. J Hum Hypertens 2007;21(5):347-52.
  5. Clar et al. Chiropr Man Therap 2014;22(1):12.
  6. Bronfort et al. Chiropr Osteopat 2010;18:3.
  • Dr. Heidi Haavik – BSc(Physiol) BSc(Chiro) PhD
  • Dr. Kelly Holt – BSc, BSc(Chiro), PGDipHSc, PhD
  • Dr. Jenna Duehr – BChiro, BHSC (Nursing), MHSc

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