Dearth of Data on Hypertension and Exercise Benefit

Benefit of exercise in patients with high blood pressure needs further investigation: report

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Doctors regularly tell their patients with high blood pressure (hypertension) to exercise regularly. Whether exercise actually helps to avoid or delay illnesses related to hypertension has not been sufficiently examined, according to a new report.

Researchers at the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency and Health Care searched for studies in which volunteers with hypertension had been randomly assigned to two groups: those who had been advised to exercise more and those in a control group who had not been given this advice. They analyzed eight randomized controlled trials lasting 6 to 12 months with relatively small groups of no more that 20 people each.

The researchers found that side effects of increased physical activity in hypertensive patients were not sufficiently investigated regarding mortality, cardiovascular morbidity, kidney failure and health-related quality of life. They also found increased physical activity might have helped lower systolic (higher) blood-pressure values by 5 to 8 mmHg, but found no differences for diastolic (lower) values.

"To avoid misunderstandings: our conclusion is not that more exercise is useless or even harmful," said professor Dr. med. Jürgen Windeler, IQWiG's Director. "However, it is a sobering fact that medications to lower blood pressure have been tested in dozens of large studies but we still know little about the advantages and disadvantages of physical activity, even though national and international professional associations have recommended this measure for a long time."

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Review Date: 
December 22, 2010
Last Updated:
January 7, 2011