Diet, exercise, weight loss and other lifestyle modifications are often recommended as the first line of treatment for people diagnosed with high blood pressure.
While research has shown these measures are effective, there's a new study on how readily people make these changes in real life - and how effective they are outside a clinical setting without the guidance of health professionals.
In this study, researchers from the University of Ottawa surveyed 2,551 Ontario residents aged 20 to 79.
About 1 in every 5 had hypertension, and most of them reported receiving some type of treatment - 41 percent were taking drugs only while slightly more (42 percent) were making lifestyle changes in addition to taking medications.
Among people who reported changing their lifestyle, 86 percent said they were eating differently, 60 percent were exercising more, and 13 percent were using other non-drug approaches.
Overall, 85 percent of those on drugs alone had their blood pressure under control.
Among those who changed their diet and exercise habits in addition to drug therapy, 78 percent had managed to lower their high blood pressure.
It appears that some people with high blood pressure put off starting medication while trying lifestyle changes, explains the study author.
Without professional guidance, dietary approaches to managing high blood pressure - such as lowering sodium intake - are a huge challenge for busy people because it's hard to avoid sodium in processed food.
While public health agencies work on pressuring the food industry to reduce its sodium use, people with high blood pressure can consult a dietitian for ongoing nutrition counseling to keep them on track with their lifestyle changes.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.