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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2003 Jul;14(7 Suppl 2):S99-S102.

Lifestyle modification as a means to prevent and treat high blood pressure.

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  • 1Professor of Medicine, Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


High BP is one of the most important and common risk factors for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and renal disease. The contemporary approach to the epidemic of elevated BP and its complications involves pharmacologic treatment of hypertensive individuals and "lifestyle modification," which is beneficial for both nonhypertensive and hypertensive persons. A substantial body of evidence strongly supports the concept that lifestyle modification can have powerful effects on BP. Increased physical activity, a reduced salt intake, weight loss, moderation of alcohol intake, increased potassium intake, and an overall healthy dietary pattern, termed the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, effectively lower BP. The DASH diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products and is reduced in fat and cholesterol. Other dietary factors, such as a greater intake of protein or monounsaturated fatty acids, may also reduce BP but available evidence is inconsistent. The current challenge to health care providers, researchers, government officials, and the general public is developing and implementing effective clinical and public health strategies that lead to sustained lifestyle modification.

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