Fruit and Veg Cut Blood Pressure and Medical Bills

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15 Sep 2016 --- By adding more fruits and vegetables to the diet, US patients with kidney disease can significantly reduce their blood pressure, and therefore their medicine expenses, compared to those who treated with a baking soda regimen or did not receive acid-reducing treatment.

The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure 2016 Scientific Sessions.

“It was remarkable that we achieved better blood pressure control using fewer drugs and without forcing people to change their diet completely,” ,” said Nimrit Goraya, M.D., study author and program director for nephrology at Baylor Scott & White Health in Temple, Texas.

“Instead, we provided food for the entire family so they could add fruits and vegetables to what they normally eat. This was important because many of these patients lived in neighborhoods without access to fruits and vegetables through local food banks or grocery stores.”

Diseased kidneys are less able to eliminate acid from the body, which can create abnormally high acid levels in the blood, a condition called metabolic acidosis.

People with kidney disease are often treated with sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, to neutralize this excess acid. However, because many fruits and vegetables naturally reduce acid after they are digested, increasing those fruits and vegetables in the diet can also treat metabolic acidosis.

Researchers compared blood pressure control in patients who received acidosis treatment via sodium bicarbonateor fruits and vegetables to patients who did not receive acidosis treatment. Acidosis treatment was intended to cut the acid load on the kidneys by half. All patients (36 in each group) were treated with medications to reduce their systolic (upper number) blood pressure to less than 130 mm Hg.

After 5 years, the average systolic blood pressure was lower (125 mm Hg) in the fruit and vegetable group than in patients receiving sodium bicarbonate (135 mm Hg) or no acidosis treatment (134 mm Hg). Although all groups started the study taking similar doses of common blood pressure drugs, by the end daily doses were lower in the fruit and vegetable group than in patients receiving sodium bicarbonate or no acidosis treatment.

The average 5-year drug cost for maintaining blood pressure was nearly half in the fruit and vegetable group ($79,760) than the sodium bicarbonate ($155,372) or no treatment groups ($152,305).

“In the long run, adding 3-4 servings of fruits and vegetables to the diet reduces blood pressure and lets people take fewer blood pressure drugs, reducing their medical costs,” Goraya said.

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