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Atlas Vertebra Realignment and Achievement of Arterial Pressure Goal in Hypertensive Patients: A Pilot Study

George L. Bakris, M.D, Marshall Dickholtz Sr. D.C., Peter Meyer, Ph.D, Glenda Kravitz, M.S Elizabeth Avery, MS, Martha Miller BA, Jonathan Brown, D.C, C. Woodfield, Joseph Bruce M. Bell, M.D, Jason Haas 

Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research ~ October 29, 2007 ~ Pages 1-9



Anatomical abnormalities of the cervical spine at the level of the Atlas vertebra are associated with relative ischemia of the brainstem circulation and increased blood pressure (BP). Manual correction of this mal-alignment has been associated with reduced arterial pressure. This pilot study tests the hypothesis that correcting mal-alignment of the Atlas vertebra reduces and maintains lowering BP. Fifty drug naïve (n=26) or washed out (n=24) subjects with Stage 1 hypertension were evaluated using a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study design at a single center.


Subjects received no antihypertensive meds during the eight-week study duration. After baseline measures subjects were randomized to receive a National Upper Cervical Chiropractic (NUCCA) procedure or a sham procedure. Statistical analysis was performed comparing baseline and week 8 visits. The study was designed with 90% power to detect an 8/5 mmHg reduction difference in arterial pressure at eight weeks over the placebo group. The study cohort consisted of 70% males, 2% Hispanic, mean age 52.7+9.6 years. There were no major differences in baseline demographics found between the two treatment groups.


The primary results of the study are noted in the Table. No adverse effects were recorded. We conclude that restoration of Atlas alignment is associated with marked reductions in blood pressure similar to the use of two-drug combination therapy. Larger studies are needed to validate these findings.


Key Words: atlas; vertebra; antihypertensive therapy

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