Therapeutic lifestyle changes (TLC) are important for the prevention and management of, as well as adjuncts to, pharmacotherapy of hypertension. This article reviews relevant TLC and their effects on blood pressure (BP) levels, with emphasis on exercise and dietary habits. Regular, moderate-intensity (40%-70% of heart rate reserve) aerobic exercise training for 30 to 60 minutes, 3 to 5 times per week, can lower systolic and diastolic BP levels, with a greater reduction observed in patients with hypertension compared with those with normal BP levels. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, with a moderate intake of fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and low in saturated and total fat, sodium, and alcohol, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating pattern, also significantly reduces BP levels. A TLC program including regular exercise and dietary modifications along with weight management appears to result in a greater BP reduction than either intervention alone. TLC can also significantly reduce other risk factors for cardiovascular disease commonly accompanying hypertension. Multiple mechanisms appear to contribute to BP reduction by dietary intervention (reduced weight, sodium, and alcohol and increased calcium, potassium, and magnesium). For exercise, these include improvements in arterial endothelial function and compliance, left ventricular structure and function, and perhaps vascular blood supply with increased cardiorespiratory endurance. The available evidence is robust in support of TLC for management of elevated BP and for the primary prevention of hypertension, supporting the recommendations by the Joint National Committee Seventh Report on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure.
- therapeutic lifestyle change