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The Blood Pressure Effect of the Addition of the DASH Diet and Exercise to the Treatment Plan of Both Pre-hypertensive and Hypertensive Rural Adults

Hypertension is a significant problem in the United States. This is especially true of rural populations who have diets high in saturated fat and sodium and low in fruits, vegetables and potassium. Furthermore, research has shown that a large number of rural residents do not engage in regular physical activity. These lifestyle characteristics have been associated with increased blood pressure and the risk for the development of cardiovascular disease. Conversely, adoption of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and exercise has been associated with decreases in blood pressure in pre-hypertensive/hypertensive patients. Purpose: The purpose of this project was to observe how the adoption of the DASH diet and increased physical activity affected the blood pressures of pre hypertensive/hypertensive rural adults. Theoretical Framework: The Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change (TTM) allowed for an assessment of the readiness to change and accounted for relapses. Method: Participants consisted of males/females (N=7) ages 24-78 years old with a diagnosis of pre-hypertension/hypertension. Using a qualitative design that utilized unstructured interviews and telephone follow-ups allowed the recording of information as it occurred. Results: At the conclusion of the project, 86% (n=6) of participants increased plant-based nutrition, 43% (n=3) decreased dietary saturated and 57% (n=4) increased physical activity. Forty-three percent (n=3) of participants decreased the systolic blood pressure by 8-10 mm Hg. Conclusion/Implications: This was a pilot project to assess the need/ value of conducting future detailed projects with rural populations. This project served as an indicator of the value and effectiveness of implementing educational programs concerning chronic disease and lifestyle changes in rural clinics.