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Survey Shows Adults Prefer Popping Pills Than Exercise To Treat High Blood Pressure

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People prefer to swallow pills or drink tea than to exercise to manage their high blood pressure. A Yale study showed that only 1 in 3 Americans are interested in prolonging their lifespan even if options are available.  ( Christophe Archambault | Getty Images )

People would rather take a pill or sip a cup of coffee than exercise to lower blood pressure and live longer lives.

A study at Yale School of Medicine surveyed 1,384 men and women and asked them which option they would choose if their lives would be extended for another month, a year, and five years. The participants are all under 45 years of age and have a history of hypertension.

The participants were asked to choose among pills, tea, exercise, and monthly or bi-annual injections. The majority of them, about 79 percent, chose pill. The rate consequently increased at 90 and 96 percent if their lives would be extended by one year and five years respectively.

Tea, which has antioxidant components, came in second at 78, 91, and 96 percent respectively. Only 63 percent of the participants chose exercise as their primary option, although the rate increased to 84 and 96 percent if their lives will be extended by another year and five years.

No To Extending Life

Study author Dr. Erica Spatz, an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation in Yale, concluded that only 1 of 5 Americans are interested in prolonging their life expectancy by any means available.

The research, which was presented to the American Heart Association, on Saturday, aimed to determine how individuals choose treatment options for cardiovascular risks if they have to weigh the benefits versus its inconvenience.

“Our findings demonstrate that people naturally assign different weights to the pluses and minuses of interventions to improve cardiovascular health,” said Spatz.

“I believe we need to tap into this framework when we are talking with patients about options to manage their blood pressure. We are good about discussing side effects, but rarely do we find out if other inconveniences or burdens may be impacting a person’s willingness to take a lifelong medication or to exercise regularly.”

One in every three Americans or 75 million of the country’s population have high blood pressure. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that only about half of those have their blood pressure managed or under control.

Hypertension is accounted for more than 410,000 deaths in 2014 or 1,100 deaths per day. It translates to $48.6 billion in hospitalization, medication, and related costs for the government and the patients’ families.

Wonder Drug

Meanwhile, an antihypertensive drug combining low doses of three drugs was presented at the American College of Cardiology 2018 Annual Scientific Session.

The TRIUMPH trial, led by Dr. Ruth Webster from the University of New South Wales in Australia, was able to use the combo pill to effectively decrease blood pressure faster compared to typical medications.

“This approach of triple low-dose therapy from the start of antihypertensive treatment is appropriate for all parts of [the] world as many patients are not reaching target blood pressure everywhere,” said Webster.

However, the development of the drug is just the first phase. Webster said that the real challenge is to make the drug readily available to low-income and middle-income earners who are at risk for hypertension.

This novel approach, according to Webster, has long been realized by the medical community, although no definitive action was taken. She explained that with the new guidelines present, clinicians are able to combine three different medications even if the patient’s blood pressure is not considered a hypertensive emergency.

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Cole Stinson

The author Cole Stinson