Lifestyle change can lower blood pressure

July 24, 2009 at 4:55 PM

BOSTON, July 24 (UPI) -- Modifying lifestyle helped U.S. women significantly lower their recently diagnosed high blood pressure, researchers said.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found women who adhered to a regime of maintaining normal weight, daily vigorous exercise, eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and low in sodium and taking a folic acid supplement self-reported less hypertension.

Hypertension -- high blood pressure -- has contributed to more excess deaths in women than any other preventable factor, said study leader Dr. John Forman of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

"Our data indicate that adherence to a combination of low-risk lifestyle factors could have the potential to prevent the majority of new-onset hypertension in young women irrespective of family history of hypertension and irrespective of oral contraceptive use," the study authors said in a statement.

The study included 83,882 adult women -- ages 27 to 44 years -- in the second Nurses' Health Study who did not have hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer in 1991. There was follow-up for new hypertension for 14 years through 2005.

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