Pills, tea preferred over exercise to treat high blood pressure

People would rather take pills or drink tea than exercise to treat high blood pressure, according to a survey.


The findings were presented Saturday at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2018 in Arlington, Va.
“Our findings demonstrate that people naturally assign different weights to the pluses and minuses of interventions to improve cardiovascular health,” Dr. Erica Spatz, an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine in the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Yale School of Medicine, said in a AHA press release. “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.”

In the survey, 1,284 U.S. adults were recruited through Amazon MTurk and 100 patients attending an outpatient health clinic from March to June 2017 and were asked about four “treatments” proposed: a daily cup of tea, exercise, pills, or monthly or semi-annual injections. Most respondents were younger than 45 years old.

To prevent high blood pressure, which is the leading risk factor for heart and cardiovascular disease, the American Heart Association recommends recommends regular physical activity and other lifestyle changes, include a healthy diet, alcohol limits, stress management healthy weight and not smoking. In addition, medications can be prescribed to help manage blood pressure.

Medications were the most preferred method to manage high blood pressure, researchers said. Seventy-nine percent said they would be willing to take a pill for an extra month of life, 90 percent for an extra year of life and 96 percent would for an addition five years of life.

A daily cup of tea was next preferred with 78 percent saying they would drink a daily cup of tea for one extra month of life, 91 percent for one extra year of life and 96 percent for an extra five years of life.

With exercise, 63 percent would do it for an extra month of life, 84 percent for an extra year of life and 93 percent for an extra five years of life.

The least preferred option was a shot. Sixty-eight percent would take a shot every six months for extra month of life, 85 percent for an extra year of life and 93 percent another five years. The figures are lower if it’s a monthly shot — 51 percent for an extra month of life, 74 percent for an extra year and 88 percent for an additional five years.

More than 20 percent of the respondents considered the treatment’s burden exceeded the gain of their calculated life expectancy. And around 20 percent said they would receive care beyond any of the four methods.

By Allen Cone