Diet can control high blood pressure

How blood pressure can be modified.

People with treatment-resistant hypertension successfully reduced their blood pressure by adopting the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, losing weight and improving their aerobic fitness by participating in a structured diet and exercise program at a certified cardiac rehabilitation facility, according to new research published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

Resistant hypertension likely affects about 5% of the general global population and may affect 20% to 30% of adults with high blood pressure. Resistant hypertension is also associated with end-organ damage and a 50% greater risk of adverse cardiovascular events, including stroke, heart attack and death.

Diet and exercise are well-established treatments for high blood pressure. This study, Treating Resistant Hypertension Using Lifestyle Modification to Promote Health (TRIUMPH), is the first to evaluate the impact of lifestyle modifications in people with resistant hypertension. Researchers found that behavioral changes, including regular aerobic exercise, adoption of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, reducing salt consumption and losing weight, can lower blood pressure significantly and improve cardiovascular health in people with resistant hypertension. The DASH eating plan is rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and limited salt, and aligns with the American Heart Association’s nutrition recommendations.

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Researchers found:

  • The participants in the supervised program had about a 12-point drop in systolic blood pressure.
  • Participants in the supervised program also had greater improvements in other key indicators of heart health, suggesting that they had a lower risk of a heart event in the future.

The study’s impact beyond the four months of monitoring is limited by whether participants who made significant lifestyle changes will maintain them. The benefits of the lifestyle modifications may be reduced unless the healthy lifestyle habits can be maintained. The most important point is that it is not too late to lower blood pressure by making healthy lifestyle choices. Adopting a healthy lifestyle pays huge dividends, even for people whose blood pressure remains elevated despite being on three or more antihypertensive medications.

The research team on lifestyle treatment for hypertension, urged patients to commit to lifestyle changes — losing 5% to 10% of their bodyweight, greater adherence to the DASH-style diet, and increasing steps by at least 1,000 per day can yield health benefits. This study provides important reinforcement that adding lifestyle changes in is an effective strategy.

Source: American Heart Association

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