Although nonpharmacologic interventions are widely recommended in the therapy of high blood pressure in older adults, surprisingly little data exist to confirm the efficacy of these interventions in older persons.
We conducted a randomized, controlled clinical trial in persons aged 60 to 85 years with a diastolic blood pressure of 85 to 100 mm Hg. The experimental arm was a nonpharmacologic intervention combining weight reduction, sodium restriction, and increased physical activity. The nonpharmacologic intervention consisted of eight weekly group and two individual sessions during the intensive phase, followed by four monthly group sessions during the maintenance phase. The control group received no treatment during the study. Blood pressure was assessed by certified technicians (blinded to group assignment) using random zero sphygmomanometers.
Of 56 participants randomized, 47 completed the entire 6-month trial (21 in the intervention group and 26 in the control group). Attendance at the intervention sessions was excellent. The intervention group lost more weight (-2.1 kg) over 6 months than the control group (+0.3 kg). Trends for decreasing 24-hour urine sodium excretion in both the intervention and control groups, with greater trend in the intervention group, were not statistically significant. The intervention group experienced more reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure than did the control group (mean differences between groups at 6 months, 4.2/4.9 mm Hg, respectively).
Our data indicate that a nonpharmacologic intervention will lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels in older people with borderline or mild elevations of diastolic blood pressure.(Arch Intern Med. 1992;152:1162-1166)