Lifestyle Modifications

Beginning with BP at 115/75 mmHg, cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk doubles for each increment of 20/10 mmHg; those who are normotensive, i.e., BP <120/80 mmHg, at age 55 will have a 90% lifetime risk of developing HTN and adoption of a healthy lifestyle is critical for the prevention of high BP.12 BP values between 130-139/85-89 mmHg are associated with a more than twofold increase in relative risk from CVD as compared with those with BP <120/80 mmHg.12 Prehypertensive individuals (BP 120-139/80-89) are not candidates for drug therapy and should be firmly and unambiguously advised that they require health-promoting lifestyle modifications to reduce their risk of progressive rise of BP in the future.12,17 Table 7 presents recommended lifestyle modifications to reduce the risk of developing HTN.12,17

Table 7. Recommended Lifestyle Modifications to Reduce the Risk of Developing Hypertension.
ModificationRecommendationApproximate Reduction of SBP
Weight reductionBMI between 18.5-24.9 kg/m25-20 mmHg/10 kg
Healthy dietDiet rich in fruits, vegetables, low far dairy products; reduced content of saturated and total fat.8-14 mmHg
Dietary sodium reduction≤100 mmol, i.e., 2.4 g sodium or 6 g sodium chloride.2-8 mmHg
Physical activityRegular aerobic activity, e.g., brisk walking at least 30 min/day, most days of the week.4-9 mmHg
Moderation of alcohol consumption2 drinks/day for men and 1 drink/day for women, e.g., 24 oz. beer, 10 oz. wine, 3 oz. of 80-proof whiskey.2-4 mmHg
For overall cardiovascular risk reduction, stop smoking.