According to a latest paper presentation on hypertension at the ESC Congress, following a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of high blood pressure by almost 75%. Researchers at the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland have arrived at this conclusion after years of laborious study on the subject.
WHO recommendations on lifestyle
The World Health Organization has estimated that hypertension claims about 7 million lives annually. Hence it recommends prevention of hypertension by embracing healthy lifestyle habits such as routine physical activity, avoiding alcohol, reducing body weight and increasing vegetable intake.
Experiment set up
The study was designed to examine the role of 5 major lifestyle factors on the development and increase of hypertension. The research was structured around more than 9000 Finnish men and 11,000 Finnish women in the age group of 24 to 74 years. The healthy lifestyle parameters were described as:
- No smoking
- Less than 50g alcohol consumption per week
- At least 3 times physical activity per week
- Amount of vegetable consumption per day
- Maintaining a normal weight and BMI
Under the guidance of lead author, Professor Pekka Jousilahti, researchers collected data on the respondents of this study from year 1982 to 2002.
Outcome and inferences of the study
After adjusting for hazard ratios for age, education and smoking, it was found that for those who adhered to the healthy lifestyle habits mentioned above had the least risk of only 25% for developing cardiovascular diseases. Adhering to only 2 habits reduced the risk by 50%. In numbers, after 16 long years of follow up it was found that only 709 men and 890 women out of the group developed hypertension among the thousands who followed a healthy lifestyle, if smoking was removed as a factor.
This has led to the inference that obesity and alcohol consumption are very important to the development and increase of hypertension. This knowledge also has direct impact on the treatment options of patients affected by hypertension. In fact, the medication dosages can be reduced if these healthy habits can be incorporated into the lifestyle of such patients. This aspect is very useful for the physicians who prescribe medication and lifestyle guidelines to their hypertensive patients.