CHICAGO -- NBC5's Nesita Kwan reported on an experimental way to lower blood pressure, without pills and without surgery. It's been researched right here in Chicago.

Maribeth Zickert said she had high blood pressure five years ago, with her systolic sometimes over 160. Medication helped, but she said a nudge to her neck helped even more.

Chiropractor Marshall Dickholtz says he believes that blood pressure can increase when the top vertebra in the neck is knocked even slightly out of line.

"There is a short in the wiring right here," he said. "This is your weak link."

He uses his hands to push the vertebra back in place. Soon after treatment, Zickert said she didn't need her blood pressure medication anymore.

"I keep a record of my blood pressure and it was going down, going down," she said.

The University of Chicago's Dr. George Bakris said he knew that a neck operation called decompression could lower blood pressure. But he said he was a bit surprised when he and other physicians studied Dickholtz's non-surgical technique.

"It was originally described in neurosurgical settings," Bakris said. "And we saw this result, actually the statistician saw the result, brought it to me, and said, 'Is this real?'"

The 25 patients who received the manipulation lowered their top, or systolic blood pressure, by an average of 17 points, and the bottom number, the diastolic, by 10 points, Kwan reported.

Another 25 patients received placebo treatment, with no significant effect.

And after one year, 85 percent of those treated still didn't need their blood pressure medication.

"It's great because I don't think there's any medication that you take that doesn't have side effects," Zickert said.

Bakris said the technique still is considered experimental, but more studies are planned.


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