Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lowering High Blood Pressure With Lifestyle Changes: The Latest Findings

(Diet & Weight Loss) High blood pressure is more treatable than ever before, thanks to a wide variety of lifestyle measures and medications, according to a new study led by Johns Hopkins professor Dr. Lawrence Appel.

These lifestyle measures can not only lower blood pressure, but also reduce the risk of complications from hypertension: stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and kidney disease.

What this new high blood pressure study has shown:

The research shows that the effects of lifestyle changes for treating high blood pressure are additive. Thus, the more you adopt, the greater the benefits.

In a study led by Dr. Lawrence Appel (co-author of the 2008 Johns Hopkins Hypertension and Stroke White Paper), people with pre-hypertension or mild hypertension who lost weight, followed the DASH diet, reduced salt and alcohol intake, and exercised regularly, lowered their systolic blood pressure by an extra 4 mm Hg over a six-month period, compared with people who only received advice on these lifestyle changes.

By making lifestyle adjustments, you'll also improve the effectiveness of your blood pressure-lowering medication and lower your risk of hypertension complications such as heart attack and stroke.

Many people can keep up the diet and other lifestyle changes that help control hypertension and ward off disease, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine (Volume 144, page 485).

How the high blood pressure study was conducted:

In a study of 810 adults with pre-hypertension or mild hypertension, researchers found that those who underwent a lifestyle overhaul were generally able to maintain the changes during the 18-month study. However, it did take some effort.

Participants had regular counseling sessions on how to incorporate lifestyle changes into their daily routines -- which included eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products; cutting down on saturated fat and sodium; getting at least three hours of exercise a week; and, if overweight, trying to shed 15 pounds.

Some participants received only advice on making these lifestyle changes, and they served as the control group. Compared with the advice-only group, those in the counseling group were about one-fifth less likely to have hypertension at the study's end.

These findings show that with some help, small lifestyle changes can add up to effective results in lowering high blood pressure.

For a copy of the free special report The Johns Hopkins Health Alerts Guide to High Blood Pressure

The Johns Hopkins Health Alerts Guide to High Blood Pressure

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