How effective are lifestyle modifications in preventing and managing hypertension (high blood pressure)?

Updated: Feb 22, 2019
  • Author: Matthew R Alexander, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Eric H Yang, MD  more...
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Lifestyle modifications are essential for the prevention of high BP, and these are generally the initial steps in managing hypertension. As the cardiovascular disease risk factors are assessed in individuals with hypertension, pay attention to the lifestyles that favorably affect BP level and reduce overall cardiovascular disease risk. A relatively small reduction in BP may affect the incidence of cardiovascular disease on a population basis. A decrease in BP of 2 mm Hg reduces the risk of stroke by 15% and the risk of coronary artery disease by 6% in a given population. In addition, a prospective study showed a reduction of 5 mm Hg in the nocturnal mean BP and a possibly significant (17%) reduction in future adverse cardiovascular events if at least one antihypertensive medication is taken at bedtime.

In a study that attempted to formulate a predictive model for the risk of prehypertension and hypertension, as well as an estimate of expected benefits from population-based lifestyle modification, investigators reported that the majority of risk factors have a larger role in prehypertension and stage 1 hypertension than in stage 2 hypertension. The investigators derived multistep composite risk scores by assessing significant risk factors in the progression from prehypertension to hypertension, as well as the regression of prehypertension to normal; they indicated that as the number of risk factors included in intervention programs increases, the size of the expected mean risk score decreases. In men, the 5-year predicted cumulative risk for stage 2 hypertension decreased from 23.6% (in the absence of an intervention program) to 14% (with 6-component intervention); the results were similar in women.

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