WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- A new study released Saturday at the on-going American Heart Association's Joint Hypertension Scientific Sessions showed that lifestyle change could reduce the need of medications for high blood pressure patients.
"Lifestyle 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 University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
"That's particularly the case in folks who have blood pressures in the range of 130 to 160 mmHg systolic and between 80 and 99 mmHg diastolic," said Hinderliter.
The researchers studied 129 overweight or obese men and women between ages 40 and 80 years who had high blood pressure. Patients' blood pressures were between 130-160/80-99 mmHg but they were not taking medications to lower blood pressure at the time of the study.
The researchers randomly assigned each patient to one of three 16-week interventions.
Participants in one group changed the content of their diets and took part in a weight management program that included behavioral counseling and three times weekly supervised exercise.
They changed their eating habits according to a nutritional approach proven to lower blood pressure, emphasizing fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy and minimizing consumption of red meat, salt and sweets.
Participants in the second group changed diet only and the third group didn't change their exercise or eating habits.
The researchers found those eating the healthy diet and participating in the weight management group lost an average 8.6 kilograms and had reduced blood pressure by an average 16 mmHg systolic and 10 mmHg diastolic at the close of the 16 weeks.
Also, those following only the healthy eating plan had blood pressures decrease an average 11 systolic/8 diastolic mmHg. Adults who didn't change their eating or exercise habits experienced a minimal blood pressure decline of an average 3 systolic/4 diastolic mmHg.