Special Chiropractic Adjustment Lowers Blood Pressure Among
Hypertensive Patients with Misaligned C-1 Vertebra

A Chicago-area study of 50 individuals with a misaligned Atlas vertebra (located high in the neck) and high blood pressure showed that after a one-time specialized chiropractic adjustment, blood pressure decreased significantly.

The decrease was equal to taking two blood-pressure drugs at once. The results are published in the online March 2 issue of the Journal of Human Hypertension. According to lead author George Bakris, MD, director of the hypertension center at the University of Chicago Medical Center, unlike other vertebrae, which interlock one to the next, the Atlas (also known as C-1) relies solely upon soft tissue (muscles and ligaments) to maintain alignment;  therefore is uniquely vulnerable to displacement. Displacement of C-1 can occur without pain and thus, often goes undetected and untreated. Hypertensive patients were assessed by Doctors of Chiropractic for signs of cervical subluxation. Those with high blood pressure and misaligned C-1 were enrolled in the study. Data from
the assessment were used by the chiropractor to plan the alignment. Half of the patients received
a carefully tailor-made adjustment based on their results. Half received a “sham intervention,”
which was designed to be indistinguishable to the patient from an authentic alignment, possible only because of the delicacy of the procedure. Participants were fully assessed again after the alignment as well as at the end of eight weeks. The authors say the improvement in blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic readings) following the correction of Atlas misalignment is similar to that seen by giving patients two different
blood pressure-lowering drugs simultaneously. The reduction in blood pressure continued into the eighth week.There was no significant change in participants’ heart rate. “The mechanism as to why this improvement in blood pressure occurs is unknown and cannot be determined by this study,” the authors wrote. “The data presented, however, raise a number if important questions including: a) How does misalignment of C1 affect hypertension?; and b) If there is a cause and effect relationship between C1 misalignment and hypertension, is malposition of C1 an additional risk factor for the development of hypertension?” A larger trial involving multiple practitioners is being planned. This trial was an investigator-initiated study funded by the ATLAS Research Foundation and the NIH K25, HL68139-01A1 who supported Meyer’s effort.

March 14, 2007 http://www.uchospitals.edu/news/2007/20070314-atlas.html
The University of Chicago Medical Center / Office of Public Affairs
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