Feature Article

Prescribing lifestyle changes for hypertension

Lawrence J Beilin



Environmental factors are major determinants of hypertension, and patients can achieve significant reductions in blood pressure by making appropriate changes to their lifestyle. Family doctors should be able to assist by providing effective advice that complements any necessary pharmacotherapy.

Key Points

  • First line management of patients with uncomplicated mild hypertension should include information about lifestyle risk factors; drugs need not be prescribed routinely. With appropriate advice from their doctor, patients can reduce blood pressure by 5 to 15 mmHg.
  • Nonpharmacological management is indicated for all hypertensive patients. The approach complements pharmacotherapy while enabling drug requirements to be minimised.
  • Lifestyle changes for hypertension tackle additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease and provide additional health benefits, such as reduced risks of atherosclerosis and diabetes.
  • Prescribing lifestyle changes helps hypertensive patients take responsibility for their health.