Lifestyle changes are known to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. A new study simulating the impact of lifestyle changes on future cardiovascular risk for people with high blood pressure suggests that one change — eating a heart-healthy diet — may do more than others.
The results predict that following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet would reduce cardiovascular events over a 10-year period more than changes such as weight loss and physical activity for young and middle-aged people with stage 1 hypertension. t be treated.
The researchers estimate that nearly 9 million adults in the United States “represent a significant and imminent burden on health care systems,” co-author Kendra de Sims said in a press release. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco. “Our results provide strong evidence that large-scale health behavior modifications may prevent future heart disease, related complications, and increased health care costs.”
The study is presented Saturday at the American Heart Association Hypertension Scientific Sessions in San Diego. The the findings They are preliminary until full results are published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Stage 1 hypertension is defined as having a systolic (upper) number of 130-139 mm Hg or a diastolic (lower) number of 80-89 mm Hg, according to AHA and American College of Cardiology guidelines. People with stage 1 high blood pressure are usually treated with lifestyle changes rather than medication.
The researchers used previously published trial data and evidence from meta-analyses about the blood pressure-lowering effects of lifestyle changes to simulate heart disease and stroke events, mortality rates and health care costs from 2018 to 2027 for people aged 35-64 years who were not treated in the first stage. . high blood pressure. These lifestyle changes included changes in diet and physical activity, smoking cessation, ongoing weight loss, and reduced alcohol consumption.
They found that making lifestyle changes that lowered blood pressure below 130 mmHg systolic or 90 mmHg diastolic could have significant health and economic benefits. The model estimated that lifestyle changes would prevent 2,900 deaths and 26,000 cardiovascular events, such as strokes or heart attacks, during the simulated time period. It also predicted that these changes could save $1.6 billion in associated health care costs.
Following the DASH diet would have the greatest benefit, preventing an estimated 15,000 cases of cardiovascular disease among American men and 11,000 among American women. The DASH diet was developed to help manage blood pressure levels. Focuses on consumption of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, seeds, and grains, and limits consumption of red meat, sodium, sugar, and sugar-sweetened beverages.
“Unfortunately, the availability and affordability of healthy food sources do not readily allow people to follow the DASH diet,” Sims said. “Physicians should consider whether their patients live in food deserts or places with limited walking ability. Health counseling should include addressing these specific blood pressure control challenges.”
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