KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A big jump in blood pressure during exercise does not always mean that a person has a greater risk of developing hypertension problems, a University of Tennessee study shows.
Some doctors believe people whose blood pressure rises substantially during exercise are more likely to be at risk of hypertension.
“Our study shows that, at least for people who exercise, a big (increase) in blood pressure during exercise does not mean a person is at greater risk for future hypertension,” said Dr. David Bassett, UT-Knoxville exercise scientist.
The study by Bassett and graduate students Hirofumi Tanaka and Michael Turner matched 26 endurance-trained athletes against 31 untrained people who did not exercise.
The participants were similar physically and had blood pressures lower than 140 over 90 when they were resting.
UT researchers found the first number, or systolic blood pressure, in the more athletic types averaged 225 during hard exercise, but only 204 for the less-athletic group.
“We do not believe that these endurance-trained athletes are at a higher risk for hypertension, despite their greater blood pressure response during exercise,” Bassett said.
“Our study shows that greater blood pressure response is not a good diagnostic tool for predicting who is likely to become hypertensive in the future.”
More reliable indicators of hypertension risk are parental history, race, body weight and diabetes tendencies, Bassett said.
Nearly 50 million Americans have high blood pressure, which prematurely ages the body’s arteries and can lead to strokes, heart attacks and kidney disease often without warning, Bassett said.
The results of Bassett’s study were published in the American Journal of Hypertension.
Contact: Dr. David Bassett (423-974-8766)