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Lifestyle interventions to reduce raised blood pressure: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Heather Dickinson, Professor James Mason, Donald Nicolson, Dr Fiona CampbellORCiD, Fiona Beyer, Dr Julia Cook, Professor Gary Ford


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Purpose To quantify effectiveness of lifestyle interventions for hypertension. Data sources Electronic bibliographic databases from 1998 onwards, existing guidelines, systematic reviews. Study selection and data abstraction We included randomized, controlled trials with at least 8 weeks' follow-up, comparing lifestyle with control interventions, enrolling adults with blood pressure at least 140/85 mmHg. Primary outcome measures were systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Two independent reviewers selected trials and abstracted data; differences were resolved by discussion. Results We categorized trials by type of intervention and used random effects meta-analysis to combine mean differences between endpoint blood pressure in treatment and control groups in 105 trials randomizing 6805 participants. Robust statistically significant effects were found for improved diet, aerobic exercise, alcohol and sodium restriction, and fish oil supplements: mean reductions in systolic blood pressure of 5.0 mmHg [95% confidence interval (CI): 3.1 -7.0], 4.6 mmHg (95% CI: 2.0-7.1), 3.8 mmHg (95% CI: 1.4-6.1), 3.6 mmHg (95% CI: 2.5-4.6) and 2.3 mmHg (95% CI: 0.2-4.3), respectively, with corresponding reductions in diastolic blood pressure. Relaxation significantly reduced blood pressure only when compared with non-intervention controls. We found no robust evidence of any important effect on blood pressure of potassium, magnesium or calcium supplements. Conclusions Patients with elevated blood pressure should follow a weight-reducing diet, take regular exercise, and restrict alcohol and salt intake. Available evidence does not support relaxation therapies, calcium, magnesium or potassium supplements to reduce blood pressure.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dickinson HO, Mason JM, Nicolson DJ, Campbell F, Beyer FR, Cook JV, Williams B, Ford GA

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Hypertension

Year: 2006

Volume: 24

Issue: 2

Pages: 215-233

ISSN (print): 0263-6352

ISSN (electronic): 1473-5598


DOI: 10.1097/01.hjh.0000199800.72563.26