16-week program for high blood pressure

— BY MICHAEL ROIZEN, M.D., AND MEHMET OZ, M.D.

Q: My doc says that if I don’t bring my blood pressure down I am going to have to take anti-hypertensive medications. I hate taking pills, so what should I do? — William T., Gloucester, Massachusetts

A: Getting your BP to normal is a key factor in avoiding a stroke or heart attack, let alone impotence. Even if your doc suggested medications (they are effective), we’re guessing lifestyle changes also were recommended. A 16-week study presented at the American Heart Association’s Joint Hypertension 2018 Scientific Sessions offers evidence that upgrading your daily habits can make a big difference pretty quickly in your cardiovascular health.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina worked with people who were overweight and had blood pressure in the 130-160/80-99 range. For four months, the participants exercised three times weekly (150 minutes total) and followed the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet. DASH basics are:

• Six to eight servings a day of whole grains: brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain bread (1 serving equals 1/2 cup rice or pasta, 1 slice bread).

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