No substitution for making healthier lifestyle choices

No substitution for making healthier lifestyle choices

People diagnosed with high blood pressure often are prescribed medications to help control the condition. Typically, this occurs after a conversation with their physician about making healthier lifestyle choices and changes. But how often do these patients adhere to the medication piece and not the healthier living component?

Turns out, more than you might expect. A study in Finland of nearly 9,000 patients who started taking antihypertensive medications and statins found they were 82% more likely to become obese and nearly 10% more apt to be less physically active than people not on the medications.

The results point to a concern among providers: Patients may be substituting the easy task of taking their medication for the hard work of eating healthier and exercising. Not only does this eliminate two of the three components of better health, it also diminishes the effectiveness of the medications.

The results were not all discouraging, however. The study also found the people who started taking the medications were 26% more likely to quit smoking and their alcohol consumption dipped.

The use of these medications has been steadily rising in recent decades, but researchers have noted a troubling shift over the years. In the early 2000s, statin users had lower caloric intake than nonusers. The difference flatlined by the mid-2000s and by 2010, it had reversed. Statin users now consume more calories and fat than nonusers, and the rates of obesity are rising faster among statin users.

While these medications are important in helping people return to better health, patients should remember they are complements to a healthy lifestyle, not a substitute for it.

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