Diet and exercise maintenance lowers blood pressure for the long-term

A recent study by the University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Kitakyushu, Japan, has come out with proof of a correlation between body weight and high blood pressure, stating that people with serious high blood pressure that lose weight through diet and exercise, also increase the pumping efficiency of their heart by reducing its size.

The study is the first to explore the relationship between body weight and left ventricular mass size after a weight-reduction program in obese, hypertensive people and obese people with normal blood pressure.

The left ventricle is responsible for most of the heart’s pumping action and when its size is reduced, the heart pumps more efficiently. The researchers also found that people with seriously high blood pressure were better at maintaining their weight loss, evidently because they stuck to their exercise routine and diet.

Dr. Michael Weber, M.D., an editor of the American Journal of Hypertension explained that “on-and-off dieting, where people lose weight but then regain the lost pounds, is of great concern when treating obese people.”

The study comprised a 12-week supervised weight-loss program involving mild exercise and a low-calorie diet. Of the subjects, all 22 to 51 year old men and women, 14 were mildly hypertensive and obese and 22 were obese with normal blood pressure.

Calorie intake varied for each participant, but all were advised not to eat snacks, to limit alcohol or beverage intake and to reduce fatty foods, carbohydrates and salt. For exercise they could either pedal a cycle ergometer or walk on a treadmill for 30 minutes, or stretch and walk or jog for 30 minutes.

After 12 weeks, the subjects were advised to maintain their modified lifestyle during a one-year unsupervised period. Results showed that the group with hypertension maintained their weight possibly due greater physical activity after the program. Also, the weight lost by the hypertensive participants contributed somewhat to a change in left ventricular mass and a decrease in blood pressure.

Bottom line, they emphasize that diet and exercise is “a positive, two-step combination that prevents weight gain and helps keep blood pressure down. It also helps the heart work at peak efficiency by reducing heart mass since an enlarged heart almost invariably leads to heart attacks, sudden cardiac death or heart failure. A further benefit is the marked reduction in the need for blood pressure medications.”

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