Hypertension and Exercise
What is Hypertension?
Hypertension describes an increase in Blood pressure beyond normal resting levels.
Blood pressure: Is the pressure in the large arteries when the main pumping chamber of the heart (Left Ventricle) is at maximal contraction and relaxation. When you take blood pressure, two readings represent the pressure, the higher reading (contraction phase) will read ideally for resting level 120mmHg and the lower number during resting state will read 80mmHg.
The blood pressure at the time taken represents an estimation of the pressure that the organs are exposed to. High blood pressure (Hypertension) is a major risk factor for chronic kidney disease, heart failure, cardiovascular events (stroke and heart attack).
Unfortunately Hypertension may not cause symptoms, meaning you may not know you have high blood pressure until a major health problem occurs and by then it may be too late to do anything.
It’s the ‘Silent Killer’
How is blood pressure monitored?
Generally automatic devices or blood pressure cuffs are used to determine Blood pressure. Sometimes when the patient receives a BP reading either at their local medical clinic or any other clinical setting “white coat hypertension” can sometimes cause the BP to increase. This effect is probably caused by anxiety associated with having BP measured by a doctor.
The higher the BP of the patient will increase the risk of cardiovascular events. Therefore exercise and lifestyle modifications are critical to help control hypertension.
Why is exercise important?
On average exercise reduces blood pressure by about 6-7mmHg. Scientific studies with large volunteer numbers have demonstrated this change. If contraction phase (systolic) BP reduced by 5mmHG, then deaths from strokes by 14% and deaths from coronary heart disease decrease by 9%.
This emphasises the impact of dietary and exercise modifications are critical to the prevention and treatment of hypertension.
How does exercise affect blood pressure?
During aerobic exercise (exercise for heart and lung fitness), systolic BP increases as the exercise intensity increases, the heart works harder to pump more oxygenated blood to the muscles. At the same time, diastolic BP remains relatively stable and may even decrease slightly.
On average, men have higher BP than women during aerobic exercise. Some people have an abnormally high spike in BP when they exercise (exercise hypertension), which is associated with higher risk for future cardiovascular events and is probably an early indicator of poorly controlled BP.
Regular physical activity is the first treatment recommended to lower BP and improve cardiovascular health, both in the general population and in those people with hypertension.
People with a resting systolic BP of 180 mmHg or more, or a resting diastolic BP of 110 mmHg or more, should postpone their exercise program and seek medical advice.
What type and amount of exercise is best?
Research suggests that regular aerobic exercise reduces resting BP and also reduces BP during light exercise and activities of daily living (ADL’s). Aerobic exercise will prevent later life development of hypertension.
Strength training also produces small benefits for BP. However it is important that your EP prescribes a strength program that will not force the patient to hold their breath and allows them to complete the full range of motion in the joints. This will ensure proper flow of blood through the arteries and a lower BP resistance.
Exercise is the Best Medicine
Exercise Physiology in Melbourne with an accredited exercise physiologist (AEP). Accreditation as an exercise physiologist is the mark of an experienced and qualified health professional who knows exactly how to help treat clients that suffer from hypertension.
Our experienced and skilful Exercise Physiologists at Moonee Valley Health and Fitness achieve the best results possible for our clients by adopting a holistic approach to rehabilitation. Your exercise physiologist will combine clinical exercise prescription with appropriate lifestyle advice to help you regain your quality of life and have you back doing the things you love.