According to a study, the need for high blood pressure meds in hypertensive individuals can be reduced within 16 weeks after making lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise and healthier eating can significantly reduce the amount of patients needing blood pressure-lowering medicine. That’s especially the case in individuals who have systolic blood pressures in the range of 130 to 160 mmHg and diastolic blood pressures between 80 and 99 mmHg.
The study participants were 129 obese or overweight individuals between 40 and 80 years of age having high blood pressure. Their blood pressures were between 130-160/80-99 mmHg but they weren’t taking medications to reduce blood pressure for the duration of the study. Based on recent guidelines, over 50% were candidates for high blood pressure medication at the start of the study.
Each individual was randomly assigned to 1 of 3 sixteen-week interventions. Individuals in 1 group changed their eating habits and participated in a weight management program which included supervised exercise 3 times/week and behavioral counseling. Their eating habits were changed to that of the DASH plan, an eating plan that has been proven to reduce blood pressure. DASH focuses on vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy and consumption of salt, sweets and red meat is minimized. Individuals in the 2nd group changed diet only, focusing on the DASH diet assisted by a nutritionist. The 3rd group did not change their eating habits or exercise.
It was discovered that:
- Individuals taking part in the weight management program and on the DASH diet lost an average of 19 lbs and had lowered their systolic blood pressure by an average of 16 mmHg and their diastolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg after the 16 weeks.
- Individuals on just the DASH eating plan had their systolic blood pressure reduced by an average of 11 mmHg and their diastolic blood pressure by 8 mmHg.
- Individuals who did not modify their exercise or eating habits had a minimal systolic blood pressure reduction of an average of 3 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure of 4 mmHg.
- By the end of the study, only 15% of those who had changed their exercise habits as well as their diet required antihypertensive medications, in comparison to 23% in the those individuals who changed only their diet. However, there wasn’t any change in the need for medications among individuals who did not change their exercise habits or diet, almost 50% continued to meet criteria for medication.