Healthwatch: Double Dose Works

By: Mavis Prall
By: Mavis Prall

Charles Vallette lowered his high blood pressure by making a number of lifestyle modifications. He exercised more, limited portion sizes, ate more dairy, ate nine to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and cut back on the salt in his diet.

In just six months his blood pressure went from 150 over 90, down to what doctors call optimal 120 over 70.

"I'm very pleased with the results. I lost 23 pounds and I feel a lot healthier than I did before the program," said Charles Vallette. "It's a program I can continue for the rest of my life."

Charles was part of a study led by Dr. Lawrence Appel of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

Appel and his colleagues wanted to know two things could people with high blood pressure make all kinds of lifestyle changes at once, instead of just focusing on diet or exercise? And would these changes reduce high blood pressure?

The study involved 810 people, putting them in different groups. Some tried just a few lifestyle changes, and others tried making lots of changes. The results appear in the journal of the American Medical Association.

"People who were assigned to make all the lifestyle changes achieved the lowest blood pressure, had the best blood pressure control and achieved an optimal blood pressure and that was significantly better than the other groups," said Appel.

In fact, the number of people with high blood pressure was reduced by two-thirds.

Dr. Appel admits that changing your diet and exercising more can be tough, but the results are well worth it.

"It may actually be a means to control blood pressure and a lot of heart disease and stroke without actually relying on medication," said Dr. Lawrence Appel of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

Charles Vallette said if he can do it, anyone can.

"I'm sure that others could do what I've done to lower their blood pressure," said Vallette. "It just takes a little determination, but the results come quick and they're good results."

Charles said his wife and son also made the lifestyle changes with him. They reduced their salt intake and portion sizes, increased the fruits, veggies and dairy in their diets, and exercised with him every day.

He says their support really helped him lower his blood pressure.

For more information, visit www.jama.com.


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