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Med Clin North Am. 2004 Jan;88(1):223-38.

Primary prevention of essential hypertension.

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  • 1Clinical Outcomes Research, Ochsner Clinic Foundation, 1514 Jefferson Highway, New Orleans, LA 70121, USA.


The best approach to the primary prevention of hypertension is a combination of lifestyle changes: weight loss in overweight persons; increased physical activity; moderation of alcohol intake; and consumption of a diet that is higher in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products and lower in sodium content than the average American diet (Table 3). Recent randomized controlled trials have demonstrated that these lifestyle changes can be sustained over long periods of time (more than 3 years) and can have blood pressure-lowering effects as large as those seen in drug studies. Hypertension is an important preventable risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of mortality in the United States. To achieve the Healthy People 2010 goal of reducing the proportion of adults with hypertension from 28% to 16%, concerted efforts must be directed toward primary prevention strategies. Lifestyle modifications including weight loss, increased physical activity, and dietary changes in individuals have been shown to reduce the incidence of hypertension and should be recommended for all persons and especially those with prehypertension. In addition, timely adoption of prevention strategies to reduce the incidence of hypertension and its subsequent complications in the general population may interrupt the costly cycle of hypertension and prevent the reductions in quality of life associated with this chronic disease.

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