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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

High Blood Pressure: What To Do To Lower It With Exercise

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L’hypertension it is one of the leading modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular death worldwide and exercise, especially in the early stages of the problem, plays a critical role in controlling blood pressure. But what are the recommended activities for this?

Not just walks

«Usually we recommend to our patients laerobic exercise, ie thestaminabased on the exercise of light and moderate cardiovascular exercise that must be repeated very consistently and often over time,” he says Daniel Andreini Professor of Cardiology at the University of Milan. «An example is walking, or exercise bikes or running at moderate intensity and without external loads that generate resistance. These are the activities that are suitable for both hypertension, as well as patients with high cholesterol metabolic syndromebut also for more complex patients with known coronary artery disease, because this type of activity, as has now been widely demonstrated, has many cardiovascular benefits”.

All in place

However, recently scientific literature has suggested that even theisometric exercise has the ability to lower blood pressure. Isometrics is a form of static muscle contraction. Isometric exercises are essentially “stationary movements”. train muscle strengthwhen it comes to the endurance of each performance: it should not be less than 20 seconds or more than 30. They can be performed with the free body (e.g. plank, abs) or using a machine at the gym.

The new research

In particular, a meta-analysis by an Australian working group from the University of New South Wales, recently published in the journal Research on hypertension
, took into account 1,140 people with an average age of 56 years, showing that this type of exercise, when performed regularly, is capable of lowering systolic blood pressure (the maximum) by 7 millimeters of mercury and increasing the diastolic (the minimum ) of 4 millimeters of mercury. It is a small effectnot comparable to what can be obtained with pharmacological treatment, but significant for those who are in a “borderline” phase and need to return values ​​to recommended ranges.

“First of all, the new analysis shows us something new isometric exercise appears to be safe in hypertensive individuals because a significant number of side effects were not registered,” says Andreini, who specifies, however: “Isometric exercise is only recommended for people with mild to moderate hypertension or for those who control their blood pressure thanks to pharmacological therapy. However, I would not recommend this activity for complex heart patients, such as those who have had heart surgery or suffered a heart attack, for whom aerobic exercise remains essential even when walking constantly and continuously, trying to leave laziness behind, perhaps choosing to walk at least one bus stop or not take the elevator , unless, of course, chest pain sets in.”

The advantages

The simplicity and low cost of isometric exercises (they can be done anywhere) are one incentive for persistence in the practice of the activity also because they allow you to train in a short time and are also useful for individuals who, despite mobility problems, can still increase muscle mass and strength, making them an alternative and valid option for those who do not like to exercise.

«Isometric exercise – reflects the cardiologist – is one good approach in the first forms of hypertension when there is not yet a clear indication whether or not to start drug therapy. Exercise in combination with little attention to nutrition can delay the start of treatment by several years with medicines, with all the benefits that entails, both economically and linked to the possible, albeit rare, side effects of the medicines». The meta-analysis does not specify which isometric exercises are best for controlling blood pressure. A prospective randomized trial would be useful to find out.

Therapy compliance

It should be clear that thephysical activity is a real therapy because it completely replaces drugs in the initial stages of hypertension, what is defined as “adherence” also applies to sports.

“Patients need to identify an activity they enjoy, and isomeric exercises expand the range of choices,” concludes Andreini. “If physical activity is perceived as a limitation, patients will commit just a few days after the cardiology visit and then abandon good intentions, with the added disadvantage of not pursuing drug therapy. This requires a pact between doctor and patient, otherwise it is better to immediately focus on medicines ».

How to lower blood pressure

Blood pressure drops significantly if you lose excess weight, cut down on alcohol, switch to a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, and low in fat. Of course, it is also necessary to limit sodium intake and increase potassium intake. Finally, exercise is necessary: ​​every time you engage in aerobic activity, your blood pressure drops visibly, if you practice it regularly, the benefits are obvious.

What to eat to lower blood pressure

Hypertension is one of the risk factors for death from cardiovascular disease, accounting for 40% of stroke deaths and 25% of coronary heart disease deaths. However, some foods can be of great help in controlling blood pressure: beetroot, cocoa (in moderation), blueberries, garlic, chili pepper, tomato, beetroot.

Source: Corriere

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