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  • Donavan Pillai

On Hypertension And Exercise

Hypertension is when blood flows through the blood vessels with a force greater than normal. Also called high blood pressure. Hypertension can strain the heart, damage blood vessels, and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney problems, and death. Systolic pressure is your blood pressure when your heart beats and pumps blood through your arteries. Your blood pressure is higher while your heart is pumping, so the systolic number is higher. Diastolic pressure is your blood pressure in between heartbeats when your heart is not pumping. Your blood pressure is lower while your heart is not pumping, so the diastolic number is lower.

A normal blood pressure is less than “120 over 80,” or 120/80. This means the systolic pressure is 120 and the diastolic pressure is 80. A blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 is called “prehypertension”. This means that your blood pressure is higher than normal and that you are at risk for having high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher most of the time it is measured, you have high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to the thickening of the arterial walls, to reduce stress on the walls and oxygen demand. This thickening causes its lumen, or conduit for the passage of blood, reduces its diameter. For this reason, the heart must work harder to pump blood through the narrowed artery openings.

As a result, the heart responds to increasing your muscle mass (left ventricular hypertrophy) to deal with that over-strain. This increase in muscle mass ends up being harmful because it is not accompanied by an equivalent increase in blood flow and may lead heart attack and renal failure. In addition, the heart muscle becomes more irritable and more arrhythmia's are produced.

Palatini et al. (2009), found that people with hypertension, who were regular physical exercise had less risk of left ventricular hypertrophy.  In addition, the sedentary people had greater volume and thickness of the walls of the left ventricle.  Ptisavos et al (2011), found that 16 weeks of aerobic exercise had favorable effects on the structure and left ventricular mass in 40 people with hypertension.

In a 2004 position stand, the American College of Sports Medicine recommended aerobic exercise supplemented with resistance training, as a way to prevent hypertension. Assessing the baseline fitness levels, together with heart rate and blood pressure responses to exercise, before, during, and after is vital. Understanding the management of other conditions, like diabetes etc., as well contraindications of exercise to the conditions. 

A Biokineticist can assist in assessing, prescribing, and managing, ones program. The Biokineticist, together with your GP or physician can work as a “team” in the management of your hypertension.  Whilst most medical schemes have programs to use these “teams” to manage hypertension among'st other chronic conditions many are not aware of these options. 


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