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Hypertens Res. 2007 Nov;30(11):1043-50. doi: 10.1291/hypres.30.1043.

Dietary pattern and blood pressure control in a hypertension outpatient clinic.

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Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Federico 2nd University of Naples, Naples, Italy.


Although it is well known that some dietary measures are able to beneficially affect blood pressure (BP) levels, hypertensive patients find it very difficult to definitively change their nutritional habits. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects on BP of a return to the habitual diet following a dietary intervention period. Three hundred and seven hypertensive patients (149 females, 158 males) with a mean age of 52+/-12 years were included in the study. All enrolled patients had reported having reverted to their habitual diet after a period of at least 6 months on a prescribed low-energy and/or low-sodium diet. Nutritional habits were investigated by a simple semiquantitative 24-item food-frequency questionnaire. Patients were divided into tertiles according to their systolic BP. The groups differed in regard to their body mass index (27.6+/-4, 28.7+/-4, and 30.4+/-6 kg/m(2), respectively, for the low- to high-systolic BP groups, but were similar in regard to the number of antihypertensive pills taken (2.1+/-0.9, 2.2+/-1.2, 2.2+/-1.3) and metabolic parameters. Patients in the lowest tertile consumed a diet significantly lower in the percentage of energy from saturated fats and sodium content and significantly higher in the percentage of energy from carbohydrate, and the fiber and potassium content in comparison to the highest tertile. The number of servings of legumes, fish and cooked vegetables was higher and that of salami and cheese lower in the 1st tertile. Definitively changing a habitual diet to a healthier one is a difficult task for hypertensive patients. However, those who return to a diet richer in vegetables, legumes and fish and poorer in saturated fat and salt achieve better control of their BP, without increasing the number of antihypertensive pills.

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