Whole grain oats and hypertension.




Journal of Family Practice

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Hypertension
Professional Data: Hypertension


Hypertension is a type of cardiovascular disease characterized by elevation of blood pressure above the level considered normal for people of similar racial and environmental backgrounds. Because it affects the entire circulatory system, hypertension can be detrimental to all the major organs, including the heart, brain, and kidneys. It may contribute to death from heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, and even kidney failure.1

Patients with uncomplicated, primary hypertension usually have no symptoms, at least initially. Often, it is not until damage to certain organs occurs that symptoms of high blood pressure begin to appear. The brain, heart, circulatory system, and kidneys are among the parts of the body first affected by high blood pressure. Often, patients with essential hypertension may only have elevated blood pressure, with all other portions of the physical examination appearing normal.

A recent study published in the Journal of Family Practice explored the idea that whole grain oats could reduce the requirement for antihypertensive medications in patients diagnosed with high blood pressure. The 88 men and women recruited for this 12-week study were divided into oat and control groups. In the oat group, whole oats were administered in cereal for 4 weeks, and in the following 4 weeks, the medication use was maintained, reduced, or stopped. The results showed that 73% of the oat group were able to reduce or stop medication use compared to 42% of the control group. In the oat group, those who were not able to reduce the use of their antihypertensive medications did see a significant decrease in blood pressure. In addition, they also saw a decrease in total cholesterol. The authors stated that a diet rich in soluable fiber whole grain oats can reduce the need for medications, lower blood pressure, and potentially reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.2


1. Hawkins DW, Bussey HI, Prisant LM. Hypertension In: DiPiro, et al, eds. Pharmacotherapy, A Pathophysiologic Approach, 4th ed. Stamford, CT: Appleton & Lange; 1999:131-151.
2. Pins JJ. Do Whole-Grain Oat Cereals Reduce the Need for Antihypertensive Medications and Improve Blood Pressure Control? J Fam Pract. Apr 2002;51:353-359.