All-in-one approach to lifestyle changes effectively lowers blood pressure
Lifestyle changes to prevent or control high blood pressure need not be made one at a time. According to a study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), with special counseling, Americans can make all the needed changes at the same time. The best results were achieved when the lifestyle changes included adoption of a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.
Results of this study, called PREMIER, appear in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
“This is the first time a host of behavioral steps to prevent or control high blood pressure has been put together in one intervention,” said NHLBI Director Dr. Claude Lenfant. “Past studies looked at one or two changes at a time, and it was thought that doing more would prove too hard. But PREMIER shows that an all-in-one approach works and can help Americans reduce their blood pressure, lowering their risk for heart disease and stroke.”
“Those in the study who made the greatest lifestyle changes had the best blood pressure results. Millions of Americans can benefit by using these lifestyle changes to control high blood pressure or prevent it in the first place,” according to Dr. Lawrence J. Appel, professor of medicine at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, and a co-author of the article.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and the chief risk factor for stroke. Even blood pressure slightly above normal increases your risk. About one in four American adults has high blood pressure (hypertension). The risk of developing it increases with age.
Recommended lifestyle steps to prevent or control hypertension are these:
- Lose weight if overweight
- Follow a heart-healthy eating plan, which includes reducing salt and other forms of sodium
- Increase physical activity
- Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages
- Quit smoking
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has created a special Web page called Your Guide To Lowering High Blood Pressure at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/index.html. Find out about the heart-healthy DASH diet used by subjects in this study at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/prevent/h_eating/h_eating.htm.