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June 2021

Low-calorie diet aids blood pressure reduction

New findings from the DiRECT study show that the low-calorie type 2 diabetes remission diet can help some people manage their blood pressure and reduce or stop blood pressure medication.

In 2017, the first-year results from the Diabetes UK-funded study showed that it’s possible for people with type 2 diabetes to achieve remission using a low-calorie weight management programme, delivered in general practice. Almost half (46%) of those who took part in the trial were in remission after a year. After 2 years, 70% were still in remission.

This new study, published in Diabetologia, looked at changes in blood pressure in the 143 people who took part in the DiRECT trial, with more than half (78 people) on medication for hypertension at the start. At the beginning of the trial, antihypertensive agents were stopped, and only restarted if blood pressure rose. The researchers found that, overall, average blood pressure fell steadily as people lost weight on the diet. Blood pressure remained lower after the 12-week diet finished, as well as at 12 and 24 months.

Only a quarter of people needed to reintroduce their blood pressure medication during the diet period, and 28% were able to remain off their medications 2 years later.

Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: ‘These important results show that the DiRECT weight management programme not only helps some people put their type 2 diabetes into remission, but can also lower blood pressure, allowing some people to safely stop taking their blood pressure medication.’

Leslie WS et al. Diabetologia 2021; 31 May.

Practice Nurse 2021;51(05):11