Is it possible to go off blood pressure medication through diet and EXERCISE?
DEAR DOCTOR :
Is it possible to get off blood pressure-lowering medication through diet and exercise?
Yes, it is. I’ve seen many patients commit to lifestyle changes and get off blood-pressure medicines entirely. More often, I’ve seen that a commitment to a healthier lifestyle allows people to greatly reduce how much medication they take, even though they still need some medicines to control their blood pressure.
While many people, myself included, would like to not have to take medicines at all, being able to reduce the dose is a big deal. Many of the side effects of medicines are reduced or eliminated by reducing the dose.
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce high blood pressure. Still, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program. If you are taking certain blood pressure medications, you may have to take extra precautions when you exercise. For example, thiazide diuretics slightly lower blood volume, so you may be more prone to dehydration with exercise.
Aerobic exercise, which boosts your heart rate and breathing, is best for lowering blood pressure. Aim to do 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity activity on most days of the week. Brisk walking, jogging and swimming are all good activities. Try to work up to 60 minutes a day.
Some resistance training is fine, but don’t strain. Do more repetitions at lighter weights to prevent temporary blood pressure spikes.
Many of my patients have started exercise programs to lose weight. But if they didn’t lose weight, they stopped the exercise. They thought the only value in exercise was losing weight. They didn’t realize that exercise produces enormous health benefits — with or without weight loss. Regular exercise lowers a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke, diabetes and many common types of cancer.
Good nutrition can also help lower blood pressure. A blood pressure-friendly diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains; several servings daily of low-fat dairy products; some fish, poultry, dried beans, nuts and seeds; and minimal red meat, sweets and sugary beverages. Limit your salt intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day.
You should also aim to:
• Attain and maintain a healthy weight. Exercise alone can help drop your blood pressure, and so can weight loss alone, by reducing your calories. But the combination of regular exercise and weight loss is more powerful than either alone.
• Limit alcohol. No more than one drink a day for a woman and no more than two drinks a day for a man.
• Stress less. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing and yoga can help relieve stress.
Lifestyle changes can have a powerful beneficial effect in lowering your blood pressure and the risk of diseases worsened by high blood pressure — particularly heart disease and stroke. This is not sanctimonious preaching: It’s solid science. more