Changes in Diet, Not Pills, Can Improve BP
A new statement from the American Heart Association (AHA)on dietary habits emphasizes weight loss, cutting back on saltand alcohol, and increasing dietary potassium as tangible methodsfor reducing high blood pressure (BP). At the same time, theAHA does not recommend the use of supplements. Althoughthe results of numerous studies suggest that supplements—such as omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and vitamin C—are associatedwith lower BP, the AHA states that the data from these studiesare unclear or insufficient.
In the statement, published in the February issue ofHypertension, the AHA advises that "the preferred strategyto increase potassium intake is to consume foods such asfruits and vegetables that are rich in potassium, rather thansupplements."
The findings of clinical trials of omega-3 fatty acids havesuggested that they may lower BP in patients with hypertension,but the effect appeared to be dose-dependent, andthose doses tended to be relatively high (>3 g/day). Suchhigh doses bring about unwanted side effects, whichprompted the AHA to discourage their use.
Results from studies of other suggested BP-lowering supplementsappear inconclusive, the AHA said. There were noconsistent links between the supplements and the loweringof BP.