blood pressure and diet

Blood Pressure Strategies Get Short Shrift from Media

A close read of a new Canadian study shows it doesn’t say what everybody says it says.

By Megan Othersen Gorman


Blood Pressure Strategies Get Short Shrift from Media

Cutting salt from your diet can lower your blood pressure--if you actually do it.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—The way some media outlets are reporting a new Canadian study, you’d think we should all just give up on living a healthy lifestyle and line up for hypertension medication right away. In the study, researchers found that more hypertension patients were able to maintain a healthy blood pressure with medication only than with a combination of medication and healthy lifestyle changes. It may seem like that means exercise and a healthy diet are a waste of time if you want to beat high blood pressure. But what this actually points to is the fact that making lasting and significant changes can be more challenging than people realize.

THE DETAILS: The researchers surveyed 2,551 men and women, aged 20 to 79. Twenty-one percent had hypertension (high blood pressure); of those, 41 percent were taking drugs for the condition, and 42 percent were taking drugs and making lifestyle changes (like eating differently or exercising) to control it. The scientists found that 85 percent of participants who used drugs alone had their blood pressure under control, while 78 percent of participants who used drugs and made lifestyle changes had their blood pressure under control.

More news about blood pressure:
How to Measure Your Blood Pressure at Home
Accuracy of Home Blood Pressure Monitors Questioned
Beat High Blood Pressure with Whole Grains

WHAT IT MEANS: So why wasn’t a healthy lifestyle more effective at lowering blood pressure? The researchers suggest that the study subjects weren’t living up to the healthy guidelines they claimed to be following—perhaps without realizing it. “It’s not that lifestyle changes can’t work,” says study co-author Frans Leenen, MD, PhD, director of the Hypertension Unit at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute in Canada. “We know that they do. It’s just that, if you get a low-sodium diet at the hospital that’s sufficient to lower blood pressure, for instance, it’s often harder than you think to carry it over to your real life.” As a result, the study authors caution against making half-hearted lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure in lieu of drug therapy. You’ll simply be delaying treatment of a potentially serious condition, they say, if you’re not absolutely committed to restricting calories and salt, and boosting exercise.

Here’s how you can get serious about lowering your blood pressure:

Published on: March 3, 2009
Updated on: October 26, 2010

More from our Authors

Look 10 years younger – no dieting no sweating no kidding! Try it FREE for 21 days!

High blood pressure drugs

I would encourage you to continue to ask your physician to pursue a generic drug therapy. However, keep in mind that the generic may not be suitable for your particular situation. Your doctor can decide.

Also, many drug manufacturers have programs for people with limited or no income. In fact, I received a pricey drug directly from Novartis when I didn't have health insurance. Again, your physician will have to assist with this. If he is not willing or able, then find someone who will give you the appropriate care you deserve.

Lastly, start excercising. Even though I still take meds, my pressure dropped 20 points when I got into a bootcamp excercise program 4 months ago.

I hope this is helpful. Be blessed.

Blood Pressure

I lost my health insurance and my medication for hypertension, at $270.00 a month, on unemployment it isn't an option for the medication. When I asked my doctor for a prescription for a generic brand so I could go to one of the big discount stores and get it for $4.00 he never returned my call.

Of course, I try to watch everything that goes in and my blood pressure goes from 122/65 sometimes to 188/90 in a matter of a couple of hours. That is without everything but my thyroid meds.

Yes I am overweight, and trying to work on it by watching my portion sizes and what I put in my mouth; try to walk some just to get moving. However, when my other ailments of back pain, knee pain, and shortness of breath kick in, it makes it hard to stick to a walking schedule.

Any advice?


Download a FREE chapter from The Exercise Cure and learn how to get your daily dose of the world's most effective preventive medicine. Click here for your FREE copy!

Free Newsletter
Sign up for the FREE daily newsletter and get useful tips to keep yourself, your family, and the planet healthy and thriving.

  The Daily Fix
Authoritative reporting on the latest developments in health, food, and the environment

  Maria's Farm Country Kitchen Newsletter
Get cooking tips, learn about healthy living and even raising chickens—Maria does it all!

Your Privacy Policy