Slamdunking Your Way to Longevity

High blood pressure patients that exercise have a lower mortality risk

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

(RxWiki News) High blood pressure patients that engage in regular physical activity may be reducing their risk of dying from heart disease or any cause to a level equal to lowering blood pressure up to 50 mmHg.

Those with hypertension who chose to skip exercising were found to be at a significantly higher risk of dying compared to people who are active at any blood pressure level.

"Regular exercise will protect your heart."

CP Wen, MD, a research fellow from the Institute of Population Health Science at the National Health Research Institute in Taiwan, noted that the risk of developing cardiovascular disease has been shown to increase substantially as blood pressure rises. He said lowering blood pressure to reduce that risk is an important goal for all doctors.

Dr. Wen's study marks the first to quantify the impact of physical activity on the risk profile of patients with hypertension.

"Appreciating this relationship will hopefully help to motivate people with high blood pressure that are inactive to take exercise,” Dr. Wen said.

The prospective study followed 434,190 participants in Taiwan for 12 years. Of the patients, 54 percent were considered inactive, 22 percent were classified low active and 24 percent were considered to engage in a medium to high amount of physical activity.

The risk of cardiovascular death or dying from any cause of the active participants was then compared to those who were inactive. Researchers found that the blood pressure equivalent of exercise could be identified by the difference in the risk of dying between sedentary participants as compared to active patients.

Investigators determined that a moderate to high level of physical activity reduced mortality risk to a level equivalent with blood pressure that has been reduced between 40 and 50 mmHg. It previously was known that the risk of developing heart disease doubles for each 10 point increase in diastolic blood pressure.

“To date, exercise and high blood pressure have been managed separately, with people mainly being concerned about their blood pressure readings," Dr. Wen said. "However, these results suggest that doctors should also discuss the importance of physical exercise as a means to manage the (cardiovascular) and all-cause mortality risk.”

The study was presented today at the World Congress of Cardiology Scientific Sessions 2012 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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Review Date: 
April 19, 2012
Last Updated:
April 19, 2012