One of the most difficult conditions to live with is uncontrolled high blood pressure. After all, no matter what medication your doctor throws at it, your pressure still soars, putting you at risk for heart attack and stroke.
So are you just out of luck, doomed to have a ticking time bomb inside your blood vessels and heart?
Not according to researchers at Duke University School of Medicine who say lifestyle matters when it comes to treatment-resistant hypertension.
What is resistant hypertension?
Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a condition that’s estimated to affect only about five percent of the population, but up to 30 percent of people develop blood pressure problems. Even worse, some studies have shown that the condition may be more common than we think, with nine out of ten blood pressure patients receiving inadequate treatment to control their pressure.
Your doctor will diagnose your blood pressure as being treatment-resistant if the use of three or more medications of different classes, including a diuretic, fails to bring it into the green zone.
This is a dangerous situation to be in since it’s associated with organ damage and a 50 percent higher risk of adverse cardiovascular events, including stroke, heart attack and death.
Diet and exercise could rehabilitate your blood pressure
Although diet and exercise are well-established treatments for high blood pressure, researchers wanted to know if these lifestyle habits were powerful enough to lower blood pressure where multiple medications had failed.
So the Duke researchers set out to see.
The team recruited 140 people living with resistant hypertension for a four-month clinical trial pitting these lifestyle modifications against the condition. Participants were split into two groups who followed the same program, although one group was supervised and others were self-guided.
Interventions they were asked to adopt include:
- Regular aerobic exercise
- The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet
- Reducing salt in their diet
- Losing weight
And guess what…
While the supervised group showed the most improvement, all participants who made these changes experienced better blood pressure numbers, as well as improvements in other key indicators of heart health.
In other words, whether you’re living with normal blood pressure problems or resistant hypertension, making small lifestyle changes could save your heart and your life.
To DASH your risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol and heart problems, follow the recommendations made by my colleague Tracey Ingram on incorporating the best foods to grab the diet’s benefits.
Additionally, be sure to add exercise to the mix, especially these two activities proven to lower blood pressure and stroke risk.
Finally, never stop your medication without talking to your doctor first. And if you still don’t see improvement in your pressure, you should consider whether an adrenal hormone, called primary aldosterone, is playing a role in keeping it elevated and follow the six steps that can help bring it back to normal levels.
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