blood-letting to cure high blood pressure?

I just read a page advertising bloodletting (arteriotomy, phlebotomy, venesection, whatever the correct medical term may be) as a remedy for hypertension.
Is this pure BS or is there something to it?
Any medics out there?

I don’ty think it will work for relieving high blood pressure (or at least not for any reasonable period of time) – Edgar Allen Poe had his hero Hans Pfall “bleed” himself to relieve the effects of high blood pressure when his balloon rose too high in the atmosphere, but that was over 150 years ago.

I’ve got high blood pressure, and after I donate blood (which takes more out of you than a “bleeeding”) I still have high blood pressure. In fact, when my blood pressure got too high, they wouldn’t let me donate.
The idea makes a kind of sense – if the body is a rigid container with too much liquid in it, you ought to be able to relive the pressure by taking out some of the liquid. However, the body isn’t a solid container – it’s a very flexible sack, and it’s got feedback mechanisms built into it. Even if bleeding were to relieve pressure at first, the body would work to restore the original situation.

This may sound remarkably ignorant, but what causes high blood pressure?

And by that I mean, what is the PROXIMATE cause? (I.e., obesity, a sedentary lifstyle, and a poor diet may be the ultimate cause of an individual’s heart attack, but the proximate cause of the heart attack was a blocked coronary artery.) I have never seen this satisfactorily explained.

Essential hypertension is responsible for over 95% of the cases of hypertension out there, which mainly means: Just because. Weight loss, sodium restriction, more exercise all lower essential hypertension. Lots of theories are developing, such as excessive angiotensin production, abnormal calcium ion transport into smooth muscle cells, excessive alpha-adrenergic stimulation by the body’s own endocrine system, etc. But basically “essential hypertension” is not due to a recognized disease state causing hypertension, like kidney disease, and others can do.

Bloodletting for hypertension is bad. When you start to lose blood, the body recognizes it and contracts the arteries to maintain pressure. By the time you’ve lost so much blood that your pressure is dropping, your body’s ability to compensate for the loss is maxed out, and further volume loss may kill you. Hell, what you’ve already lost may kill you when the body is no longer able to keep the vascular system constricted to maintain blood pressure.


Well, the guys don’t advertise “bleeding to death” but relieving some tension by removing a small amount of blood. Actually, it doesn’t make much sense to me either. Thanks CalMeacham for your story on donating blood. This pretty much convinces me that it’s useless.
The side-effects of the medication, usually prescribed doesn’t make me happy either…
toadspittle, to my understanding high blood pressure is due to some malfunction in the “sympathic nervous system”