Healthy lifestyle means less blood pressure drug

In a recent study, researchers find people with high blood pressure needed fewer drugs within 16 weeks after making lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle changes are the first step in reducing blood pressure, according to the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Hypertension Guideline.

Lifestyle modifications include healthier eating and regular exercise.

The researchers find these changes can greatly decrease the number of patients who need blood pressure-lowering medicine.

This is especially true in people who have blood pressures in the range of 130 to 160 mmHg systolic and between 80 and 99 mmHg diastolic.

In the study, the team checked 129 overweight or obese men and women between ages of 40 and 80 years who had high blood pressure.

Patients’ blood pressures were between 130-160/80-99 mmHg but they were not taking medications to lower blood pressure at the time of the study.

The researchers randomly assigned each patient to one of three 16-week interventions.

One group changed the content of their diets and took part in a weight management program, which included behavioral counseling and three-times weekly exercise.

They changed their eating habits to that of the DASH plan, a nutritional approach proven to lower blood pressure.

DASH emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy and minimizes consumption of red meat, salt, and sweets.

The second group changed diet only, focusing on the DASH diet with the help of a nutritionist.

The third group didn’t change their exercise or eating habits.

The results showed that people eating the DASH diet and taking part in the weight management group lost an average of 19 pounds.

In addition, they reduced blood pressure by an average 16 mmHg systolic and 10 mmHg diastolic at the close of the 16 weeks.

The people following only the DASH eating plan had blood pressures decrease an average 11 systolic/8 diastolic mmHg.

On the other hand, people who didn’t change their eating or exercise habits experienced a minimal blood pressure decline of an average 3 systolic/4 diastolic mmHg.

The research team also found that by the study’s end, only 15% of those who had changed both their diet and their exercise habits still needed blood pressure, compared to 23% in the group that only changed their diet.

However, there was no change in the need for drugs among those who didn’t change their diet or exercise habits.

The researchers suggest that lifestyle modifications may be just as helpful as blood pressure drugs for people with high blood pressure.

The finding needs confirmation in future studies.

Leading study author Alan Hinderliter, M.D. is associate professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The National Institutes of Health funded this study.

The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Joint Hypertension 2018 Scientific Sessions.

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Source: American Heart Association