High blood pressure during exercise may be a serious warning sign

(Credit: Glen Scott/Flickr)

Higher blood pressure during exercise and delayed blood pressure recovery afterward are associated with a higher risk of hypertension, preclinical and clinical heart disease, and death among middle-aged to older adults, researchers report.

Blood pressure responses to exercise are significant markers of cardiovascular disease and mortality risk in young to middle-aged adults.

However, few studies have examined the associations of midlife blood pressure responses to submaximal (less than the maximum of which someone is capable) exercise with the risk of cardiovascular outcomes and mortality in later life.

For a new study, researchers evaluated the association of blood pressure changes and recovery with indicators of preclinical disease among participants from the Framingham Heart Study (average age 58 years, 53% women).

Then, they followed participants to assess whether blood pressure changes associated with the risk of developing hypertension, cardiovascular disease, or dying.

They observed that both higher exercise systolic blood pressure (SBP) and exercise diastolic blood pressure (DBP) link to a greater risk of developing hypertension.

Additionally, both delayed SBP and DBP recovery after exercise associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death.

“The way our blood pressure changes during and after exercise provides important information on whether we will develop disease in the future; this may help investigators evaluate whether this information can be used to better identify people who are at higher risk of developing hypertension and CVD, or dying later in life,” explains corresponding author Vanessa Xanthakis, assistant professor of medicine and biostatistics at the Boston University School of Medicine and an investigator for the Framingham Heart Study.

Xanthakis recommends that people know their blood pressure numbers, speak to their physician regarding changes during and after exercise, and follow a healthy lifestyle (including a regular physical activity schedule) to help lower risk of disease later in life.

These findings appear online in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Support for the Framingham Heart Study came from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the NIH supported this research.

Source: Boston University