Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…
October 23, 2018
Q: Mr. Pedometer, my doctor has prescribed medication for my blood pressure and for my cholesterol. Will I have to take these pills for the rest of my life? Is there any hope of getting off of them?
A: Possibly. The “Consumer Reports on Health” newsletter included a recent article that suggests many of us can make lifestyle choices that can either eliminate our need for certain heart medications or at least allow us to safely reduce the dosage. Of course, you want to work with your doctor to make sure you are not putting yourself at risk. Here are the four healthy lifestyle steps that may help, as reported in the newsletter:
- LOSE EXTRA WEIGHT. Even losing just 9 pounds can make a significant difference in your blood pressure readings, according to a 2014 Cochrane review.
- EAT RIGHT. Where have you heard that before? (-; “Proper eating habits can help you get to – and maintain – a healthy weight. Vegetarian and Mediterranean-style diets reduced body fat and weight equally, according to a study published in “Circulation” in February (2018).” Cutting back on sodium (less than 2,300 mg per day) also can help reduce blood pressure.
- If you are engaged in 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous activity, you have a 22 percent lower risk of a major cardio-vascular event than those who are less active, according to a 2017 study published in “Lancet.”
- AVOID AIR POLLUTION. This may be the most unfamiliar suggestion on the list. “A study published in the “Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism” in 2016 found that people who breathed in higher than average levels of particulants, such as auto exhaust and dust, had higher blood sugar levels, higher “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, and lower “good” HDL cholesterol levels – all factors that raise your risk for heart disease.” Pay attention to local pollution levels by visiting airnow.gov. “…On high-pollution days, spend time outdoors before or after rush hour, when pollution levels tend to be lower.”
You may want to try some or all of these lifestyle choices before your next physical, to see if the combination helps you reduce the need for prescription medications.