Recent research on the benefits of exercise for high blood pressure conducted by 3 leading institutions suggest that regular exercise can be as effective as medication.
People who have high blood pressure are more prone to
diseases such as coronary heart disease, heart failure, diabetes or stroke
which are usually treated with conventional drugs. However the report,
published in the British Medical Journal, suggests that exercise may be as
effective in treating the conditions as prescribed medication.
The team of researchers from the London School of Economics,
School and Stanford
University found little difference
between exercise and drug treatments while exercise proved more effective for
stroke victims; although heart failure patients responded better to diuretic
For exercise to be beneficial it needs to be regular (3-5 days a week) and sufficiently strenuous to raise the heartbeat. Such exercise might include:
The latest research on exercise
does however suggest that one in six people may only gain a minimal (5%)
Although more trials are needed, the research team believed
that; “exercise and many drug interventions are often potentially similar in
terms of their mortality benefits…in cases where drug options provide only
modest benefit, patients deserve to understand the relative impact that
physical activity might have on their condition.”
Senior staff at the British Heart Foundation believes
further research is necessary before firm conclusions can be drawn and that
people on prescribed drugs should keep taking them.
This sentiment is echoed by Dr Peter Coleman at the Stroke
Association who maintains that the benefits to stroke victims of exercise and
physiotherapy should not preclude any existing prescribed medication.
An NHS England spokesperson agrees that exercise plays an
important part in a healthy lifestyle but anyone considering any change in
their treatment should first consult their doctor.