Diet and Lifestyle Changes can Tame Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure

Long-standing evidence that dietary and other lifestyle changes are a key solution to high blood pressure—even resistant hypertension (high blood pressure difficult to control with medication), according to a new study.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on

This randomized clinical trial enrolled 140 adults, average age 63 years, with resistant hypertension for a four-month study. One group received supervised lifestyle intervention, including weekly counseling from a nutritionist on how to follow the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which focuses on healthy whole foods, along with calorie goals and a sodium target of 2,300 milligrams per day or less. This group also received weekly group counseling sessions with a clinical psychologist addressing eating behaviors and behavior change strategies and engaged in physical activity three days a week for 30 to 45 minutes under supervision at a cardiac rehabilitation center. The control group received a one-hour session with a health educator along with a personalized workbook containing guidelines on physical activity, weight loss, and nutrition goals.

The control group had a mean reduction in their systolic blood pressure of seven points (mmHg) over the four-month study period and the intervention group had a mean reduction of 12 points. Fifty-nine percent of these participants achieved their blood pressure goal by the end of the study.

This study demonstrates that, even in people with resistant hypertension, adopting a healthy diet and other lifestyle changes (in addition to medication as prescribed) can lower blood pressure by a meaningful amount. The researchers concluded that a structured program including a low-sodium DASH diet, regular physical activity, and counseling support is a highly effective approach.

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