Health & Wellness

Lifestyle Changes May Keep You Off Meds

Whether your high blood pressure requires treatment is partly up to you


By Wendy Haaf


Changing your eating and exercise habits can reduce the odds that you’ll need medication for newly diagnosed high blood pressure, according to the results of a study by US researchers. The findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s Joint Hypertension 2018 Scientific Sessions.

Researchers looked at 129 adults aged 40 to 80 with higher-than-recommended body weight whose blood pressure (BP) measurements fell within the range of 130–160/80–99 mmHg. None of the participants were taking antihypertensive medication, though more than half were candidates for doing so at the study’s start.

Volunteers were divided into three groups: one followed the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), another combined the DASH diet with behavioural counselling and thrice-weekly supervised exercise, and the third didn’t change diet habits. After 16 weeks, average BP had dropped dramatically in both the combo and the DASH-only groups, such that only 15% of the diet/exercise group and 23% of the diet-only group were still candidates for drug treatment, versus nearly 50% of the third group.

Photo: iStock/ratmaner.