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Make These Four Changes Now to Lower Your Blood Pressure, New Study Urges

New research suggests these behavioral changes may help bring high blood pressure levels down.

If you deal with treatment-resistant hypertension, then you'll likely be interested to learn that research disclosed in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation suggests that by making four key changes to your lifestyle, you can lower your blood pressure.

Researchers at the Duke University School of Medicine took a look at 140 adults who had resistant hypertension in a study referred to as Treating Resistant Hypertension Using Lifestyle Modification to Promote Health (TRIUMPH) and found that—while a patient should remain on prescribed medication—those who need to lower their blood pressure were able to do so by taking part in regular aerobic exercise in nature, losing weight, and lowering the amount of salt in their food.

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Beyond that, people with hypertension may also benefit from adopting the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet which includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, and dairy products that don't contain a high amount of fat, while again staying away from salt.

dash diet

American Heart Association volunteer expert Bethany Barone Gibbs, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of health and human development and clinical and translational sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, told Eat This, Not That! positive results were seen when participants made modest lifestyle changes. This indicates they lost 5-10% of their body weight while adding around 1,000 more steps into their daily routine while showing a "greater adherence to the DASH-style diet."

Gibbs also points out that "these lifestyle changes can have many other health benefits beyond blood pressure, like improved mood, sleep, musculoskeletal health, glucose control, reduced lipids, and more—further enhancing the benefit."

John Martinez, MD, a primary care sports medicine physician, feels that "the study does show that physicians should continue to promote lifestyle changes to patients, regardless of the severity of their disease since, in this group, it may make a positive impact on their health and allow patients to decrease the number of medications they need to be on."

However, Rachel Fine, MS, RD, CSSD, a registered dietitian and owner of To The Pointe Nutrition, addresses a few concerns she has about the article's general recommendation for weight loss.

"Though normalized in our culture, restrictive dieting places an unnecessary burden of stress on consumers," she says. "Also, perceived weight stigma, which is evident by the article's language, increases stress levels."

To find out if this approach is right for you, Anthony Puopolo, MD, and chief medical officer at RexMD, recommends that patients should "open the conversation with [their] doctor, or a dietitian and [they] will be able to start naturally lowering your blood pressure."

As senior author of the study James A. Blumenthal, Ph.D. emphasizes that the most important takeaway from this research is that it's never too late to start making healthy lifestyle choices to help lower blood pressure levels.

"Adopting a healthy lifestyle pays huge dividends, even for people whose blood pressure remains elevated, despite being on three or more antihypertensive medications," says Blumenthal.

For more, be sure to read The One Breakfast Drink That Lowers Your Blood Pressure, Says Dietitian. Then, don't forget to sign up for our newsletter!

Desirée O
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more about Desirée