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Beyond pills: Cardiologists examine alternatives to halt high blood pressure
Date:8/30/2011

More and more, patients show up to appointments with hypertension expert John Bisognano, M.D., Ph.D. carrying bags full of "natural" products that they hope will help lower their blood pressure. And like most physicians, Bisognano doesn't always know if these products will do any good, or if they will cause any harm.

"Right now we're seeing a cultural shift where an increasing number of people want to avoid standard pharmaceuticals," said Bisognano, professor of Medicine and director of Outpatient Cardiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "We're also seeing a growing number of patients who require a large number of drugs to control their blood pressure and are looking for something else to help manage it."

In an effort to better educate health care professionals and patients, Bisognano and Kevin Woolf, M.D., a cardiology fellow at the Medical Center, conducted the most comprehensive review to date of the evidence behind a wide range of non-drug interventions for the treatment of high blood pressure. The review is featured in the September issue of the Journal of Clinical Hypertension.

Woolf said there is not enough data to recommend any of these alternative options on a routine basis, but on an individual basis he thinks they are useful. "Patients have different backgrounds and different approaches to living their lives," said Woolf. "This is where the art of medicine comes in; getting to know patients and what they will and will not embrace can help physicians identify different therapies that suit their patients' habits and that will hopefully make a difference for them."

Woolf and Bisognano, who is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Hypertension, emphasize that all patients with hypertension should adhere to the low-salt DASH diet, which is high in fiber, low in fats and incorporates lots of fruits and vegetables, and follow an exercise and weight loss regimen lifestyle
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Contact: Emily Boynton
emily_boynton@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-1757
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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