People with high but under control blood pressure saw a jump in their levels during exercise, an increase that mirrored the spikes seen under similar conditions among people with untreated hypertension, according to a new U.K. study. The findings open up the possibility of tailoring blood pressure treatment to a patient’s activity level.
But the study’s senior author emphasized that routine exercise continues to be one of the best ways to help lower blood pressure in the long run, since regular physical activity strengthens the heart and allows it to pump more blood with less effort.
“We don’t want to put people off exercising because it’s been proven that training to be fitter does help control blood pressure, which in return reduces your risk of having a heart attack and stroke,” said Emma Hart, an associate professor at the University of Bristol’s School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, and the senior author of the study published Tuesday in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
Researchers measured the impact of sudden exercise on four small groups of people, 59 in all. Three of those groups had high blood pressure: one had the condition under control through treatment, primarily medication; another group received treatment but did not have it controlled; and the third group did not treat their high blood pressure at all. The fourth group had normal blood pressure.