Blood pressure has two components, systolic and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the first number of a blood pressure measurement and reflects the pressure inside arteries when the heart pumps. Diastolic pressure, the second number, is the pressure when the heart relaxes between beats. High diastolic blood pressure -- also known as isolated diastolic hypertension or IDH -- is distinct from isolated systolic hypertension or elevation of both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure. IDH can often be well controlled with personal and lifestyle changes, although your doctor may recommend medication as well.
One of the most common conditions that coincides with high diastolic blood pressure is being overweight. According to a March 2009 "JAMA Internal Medicine" report, each point of BMI increase raises the risk of developing isolated diastolic hypertension by 6.0 percent. The positive side of this finding is that it presents a natural solution: losing weight. A February 2013 report in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" shows that reducing body fat also significantly reduces diastolic blood pressure, so this is one of the most important steps you can take to control IDH.
The path to losing weight almost always requires regular exercise. But adding exercise to your daily routine does more than just help you lose weight. According to a February 1996 "Archives of Internal Medicine" report, lifestyle changes that include adding an exercise regimen can help reduce diastolic blood pressure by up to 9 points in men. Regular exercise also reduces your overall risk for cardiovascular disease, including blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the heart.
A Healthy Diet
Diet is the second major contributor to any weight-loss program. A healthy diet with modest restriction of calories is key and it may help lower diastolic blood pressure. For example, a study published in the May 2005 "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that a diet consisting of low-fat dairy foods, vegetables, lean meats, fruit and limited salt can lower diastolic blood pressure by 1 to 6.4 percent.
Talk With Your Doctor
In general, IDH is usually manageable with lifestyle changes. While the significance of IDH remains a topic of debate within the medical community, it is clear that diastolic hypertension presents less risk for future heart disease than systolic hypertension. According to a 1995 report published in "Hypertension," IDH is common, but people with the condition suffer significantly fewer instances of heart attack compared to people with elevated systolic pressure or elevations in both systolic and diastolic pressure. "The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure" recommends that systolic blood pressure be monitored and controlled carefully. This is considered more important than diastolic blood pressure in terms of predicting risk of future heart disease, but diastolic hypertension can be a precursor to general hypertension, so it is important to address as a preventive measure.