Lifestyle changes reduce blood pressure

A new study presented to the American Heart Association notes that men and women with high blood pressure are able to reduce the need for antihypertensive medications by making lifestyle changes.

The study, released in early September, was presented in Chicago at the American Heart Association’s Joint Hypertension 2018 Scientific Sessions, an annual conference focused on recent advances in hypertension research.

Lifestyle changes are the first step in reducing blood pressure, according to the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Hypertension Guideline.

These modifications, including healthier eating and regular exercise, can greatly decrease the number of patients who need blood pressure-lowering medicine, said study author Alan Hinderliter, associate professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Researchers studied 129 overweight or obese men and women aged 40 to 80 years old who had high blood pressure, who were not taking medications to lower blood pressure.

Researchers randomly assigned each patient to one of three 16-week interventions. Group one changes their diets and participated in a weight management program that included behavioral counseling and supervised exercise. They followed the DASH plan, a nutritional approach proven to lower blood pressure, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy, and minimal red meat, salt and sweets.

Group two changed their diet only, with a focus on the DASH plan, and group three did not change either their diet or eating habits.

Researchers found that group one lost an average 19 pounds and had reduced blood pressure by an average 16 mmHG systolic and 10 mmHg Diastolic at the close of 16 weeks. By the study’s end, only 15 percent of those who had changed their diet and exercise habits needed antihypertensive medications.

Study results were reported by EurekAlert, the online journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

More information about the DASH diet is online at