Treating blood pressure with proper diet and exerciseAmerican Heart Association published a scientific statement in hypertension and recommended use of alternative approaches like resistance training and aerobic exercise in reducing blood pressure. According to the statement, these alternative approaches are can be adjunctive to medical therapies and standard dietary for hypertension.

While evidence supporting isometric handgrip exercises, use of devices for slow breathing and biofeedback techniques might not be as strong as such, the approaches have been found to be quite effective as far as reduction of blood pressure is concerned. For alternative therapies like yoga, meditation, stress management techniques, acupuncture and relaxation therapy, there is no sufficient evidence available to support their effectiveness when used as adjunctive treatment for hypertension.

The statement was intended to provide updated assessment and evidence to support the efficacy of alternative methods used to treat blood pressure. From the statement, there are several conclusions that can be made from it. The statement provides useful recommendations for incorporation of the alternative approaches by clinicians in their usual practices, reported Dr. Robert D. Brook and fellow associates. The team reviewed literature, which had been published for the past six years where they spotted 124 studies on behavioral therapies, 773 regimes based on exercises and 105 cases noninvasive devices and procedures for blood pressure reduction.

In overall, these studies didn’t have good quality and most of them were observational. Where random clinical trials had been conduced, insufficient randomization methods flawed them not to mention the use of small sampling sizes, sub optimal control groups and short to no follow ups. Most of the studies reviewed had compliance and selection biases.

The effectiveness of BP alternative treatments

In general, the committee concluded that for patients with blood pressure levels above 120/ 80 mm Hg, considering use of alternative approaches was a reasonable thing to do. There is a high likelihood that this will help in lowering BP. Nevertheless, since there is no alternative technique that can be relied upon to decrease blood pressure by more than 20/ 10 mm Hg, patients who need such a BP magnitude reduction must consider using alternative approaches after being treated first with recommended pharmacologic strategies. It is important to emphasize that alternative treatment approaches can only reduce systolic blood pressure by 2 to 10 mm Hg only. As such, it is only a handful of patients who can succeed in achieving their goals while solely using such treatment modalities when their BP target is above 10/ 5 mm Hg.

As such, said the report, it is necessary for hypertension patients to consider aerobic exercise as the major alternative treatment while trying to reduce BP. Besides, resistance training was noted to be also very effective in lowering blood pressure and also the fact that this training is associated with other cardiovascular benefits and is thus highly recommended.