I like really big population studies. The conclusions reached are valid and extremely accurate. Small studies with few participants are subject to many types of bias. The results of small studies are often debatable and not dependable.
The second Nurses’ Health Study enrolled 83,882 adult women 27-44 years of age. At the beginning of the study in 1991, all these women had normal blood pressure, (systolic 120 or less and diastolic 80 or less), and no diabetes, heart disease or cancer. These women were followed for 14 years through 2005. During the study, 12, 319 women developed high blood pressure and the rest didn’t.
Those who did NOT develop high blood pressure were more likely to have a diet with a high intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. They used low-fat dairy products, and whole grains but did not use a lot of salt, sugary drinks, or red meat.
Those with normal blood pressure also had normal body weight and exercised by walking for at least 30 minutes five days a week. They also didn’t use alcohol heavily or take non-prescription pain pills such as acetaminophen (main ingredient in Tylenol), NSAIDS (found in Aleve and Advil), or aspirin.
Each positive lifestyle element contributed something toward NOT developing high blood pressure. If ALL the positive elements were included in the lifestyle, 80% of high blood pressure could be avoided. The conclusion based on tens of thousands of people is that if you live right you won’t get high blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure, treatment with prescription medication has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks, but if you start to live right your health care provider may be able to gradually reduce or eliminate your blood pressure medication altogether.