Objective: To provide updated, evidence-based recommendations regarding the role of lifestyle modification in the treatment and prevention of hypertension.
Outcomes: Lifestyle modification interventions including exercise, weight reduction, alcohol consumption, dietary modification, intake of dietary cations and stress management are reviewed. Antioxidants and fish oil supplements are also reviewed, although specific recommendations cannot be made at present.
Evidence: MEDLINE searches were conducted from January 2002 to September 2003 to update the 2001 recommendations for the management of hypertension. Supplemental searches in the Cochrane Collaboration databases were also performed. Reference lists were scanned, experts were contacted, and the personal files of the subgroup members and authors were used to identify additional published studies. All relevant articles were reviewed and appraised independently using prespecified levels of evidence by content and methodology experts.
Recommendations: Key recommendations include the following: lifestyle modification should be extended to nonhypertensive individuals who are at risk for developing high blood pressure; 30 min to 45 min of aerobic exercise should be performed on most days (four to five days) of the week; an ideal body weight (body mass index 18.5 kg/m2 to 24.9 kg/m2) should be maintained and weight loss strategies should use a multidisciplinary approach; alcohol consumption should be limited to two drinks or fewer per day, and weekly intake should not exceed 14 standard drinks for men and nine standard drinks for women; a reduced fat, low cholesterol diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products, and maintains an adequate intake of potassium, magnesium and calcium, should be followed; salt intake should be restricted to 65 mmol/day to 100 mmol/day in hypertensive individuals and less than 100 mmol/day in normotensive individuals at high risk for developing hypertension; and stress management should be considered as an intervention in selected individuals.
Validation: All recommendations were graded according to the strength of the evidence and voted on by the Canadian Hypertension Education Program Evidence-Based Recommendations Task Force. Individuals with irreconcilable competing interests (declared by all members, compiled and circulated before the meeting) relative to any specific recommendation were excluded from voting on that recommendation. Only those recommendations achieving at least 70% consensus are reported here. These guidelines will continue to be updated annually.