The Effects of Lifestyle Changes on Long-Term Blood Pressure Control. Ann Intern Med. 2006;144:I-27. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-144-7-200604040-00002
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2006;144(7):I-27.
Lifestyle changes, such as exercising to lose weight and following a healthy diet, are at least as important as drugs for treating chronic diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension. Research has shown that lifestyle changes can reduce blood pressure for up to 6 months. Most people have difficulty maintaining lifestyle changes for longer periods of time. It is not known whether the benefits of a healthy lifestyle for blood pressure control are more durable than medication.
To see whether people can maintain lifestyle changes that lower blood pressure for 18 months.
810 generally healthy adults with borderline or mild hypertension.
The researchers randomly assigned participants to 3 groups. In one group, participants were given repeated lifestyle change counseling over time with specific goals for how much weight to lose, how much to exercise, and how much salt and alcohol to include in their diet. In another group, participants received the same counseling and guidance as those in the first group, but were also given specific goals for increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products and decreasing the amount of fat in their diet. A third comparison group only received general advice to lose weight, increase physical activity, and maintain a healthy diet. Eighteen months after starting the study, the researchers compared the average weight, diet, and blood pressure of participants in each of the groups.
Participants who were given specific goals for diet and exercise lost more weight and had better diets after 18 months than those who were not given specific guidance. They were also less likely to have hypertension. There was no difference in blood pressure levels between the 2 groups that received different kinds of guidance about how to improve their diet.
The study applied only to patients with borderline or mild hypertension who were not taking drugs to control their blood pressure. Blood pressure control is important because it reduces heart and blood vessel disease. The study was not designed to evaluate the effect of improving diet and exercise on such diseases.
For at least 18 months, people with borderline or mild hypertension can maintain a healthy diet and level of physical activity that improves their blood pressure.
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Cardiology, Nephrology, Hypertension, Coronary Risk Factors.
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