Elevated blood pressure was effectively reduced after an average of 10 days of fasting, as evidenced by a study of 1610 fasting patients at the Buchinger Wilhelmi Clinic in Überlingen, Germany.
690 subjects in this group had high blood pressure before fasting. Among them 377 people took antihypertensive drugs, the administration of which could in most cases either be stopped or reduced during fasting as blood pressure fell or remained within the normal range.
Since antihypertensive drugs often have serious side effects, long-term fasting could be used as a complementary therapy for high blood pressure.
In 920 people with normal blood pressure, blood pressure was reduced while staying within the normal range. Low blood pressure values showed a tendency to increase. The results of the study were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in November 2020 under the title “Blood pressure changes in 1610 subjects with and without antihypertensive medication during long-term fasting” by the authors Franziska Grundler, Robin Mesnage, Andreas Michalsen and Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo.
High blood pressure is an important and widespread risk factor for life-threatening diseases such as heart attack or stroke and is mainly caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. Risk factors for high blood pressure include obesity, malnutrition, lack of exercise, stress, smoking, and excessive consumption of salt, sugar or alcohol. According to European medical societies, the threshold above which one speaks of high blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg.
The study proves that long-term fasting according to the Buchinger Wilhelmi programme has a beneficial effect on blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure fell both in patients who were treated with medication and in those who were not. The longer the fasting lasted, the stronger the effect. The positive effects of fasting on blood pressure can be explained by the reduction in weight due to fasting, a reduction in waist circumference and the interruption of salt, alcohol and carbohydrate intake and, if necessary, smoking. Fasting triggers mechanisms that act in a similar way to antihypertensive drugs: it promotes the excretion of sodium, activates the parasympathetic nervous system and causes vasodilation. The improvement in blood pressure continued for four days after the fasting ended. Closer examination showed that long-term fasting effectively lowers blood pressure, especially in people with high body weight, lipid and glucose metabolism disorders and in older people.
Future studies will investigate whether these positive results can be sustained over the medium and long term, which is likely to depend on lifestyle changes.
Dr. Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo
Franziska Grundler, Robin Mesnage, Andreas Michalsen und Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo: „Blood pressure changes in 1610 subjects with and without antihypertensive medication during long-term fasting, Journal of the American Heart Association, (2020;9:e018649).