How do medications and aerobic exercise interact in patients with high blood pressure?

aerobic exercise and high blood pressure
Health, Fitness & Food
aerobic exercise

There are many ways to control blood pressure, mainly aerobic exercise and medication. A research team in Spain recently tried to identify the interaction between aerobic exercise and medication in patients with high blood pressure.

Individuals and healthcare providers are constantly seeking out approaches to reduce or control blood pressure. These may include exercise, quitting smoking, and reducing salt intake. Studies have found that aerobic exercise can potentially be effective in lowering blood pressure in patients with metabolic syndrome. However, regular exercise programs alone seem to be ineffective for people with high blood pressure. In these instances doctors prescribe medication.

There a number of antihypertensive medications on the market. One of these is known as ARB, which lowers blood pressure by inhibiting the tightening of blood vessels by inhibiting hormones. There is a lot of debate on how patients with metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure respond to a combination of aerobic exercise and ARB medication, and how these two may work together.

A research group in Spain set to determine the interaction between aerobic exercise and ARB medication in people with high blood pressure and published their findings in Blood Pressure Monitoring. They used 15 individuals in the study, which had high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome and on a long-term regimen of ARB medication. The study was blind, randomized and controlled effectively.

They subjected the participants to two different aerobic exercise trials in a random order. One trial was performed after the participants took a dose of ARB medication, and the other trial was performed 48 hours after the ingestion of a placebo medication. All trials were conducted at the same time of day after fasting overnight. The time between trials was one to two weeks and they ordered the participants to restrain from aerobic exercise, caffeine, smoking and alcohol before testing.

They measured blood pressure and the stiffness of blood vessels before and after the trials. The study found that aerobic exercise reduced the blood pressure of the participants to the same extent in both the ARB medication trial and the placebo medication trial. The measurement of blood vessel stiffness showed no association between aerobic exercise and medication.

The researchers conclude that a session of aerobic exercise and ARB medication seem to have separate and independent effects on lowering blood pressure of individuals who have high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome. Finally, it seems that the effects of exercise and medication can be additive in nature.

Written by Ingrid Qemo, PhD

Reference: Ramirez-Jimenez, M., Fernandez-Elias, V., Morales-Palomo, F., Ortega, J.F., Mora-Rodriguez, R. 2018. Intense aerobic exercise lowers blood pressure in individuals with metabolic syndrome taking antihypertensive medication. Blood Press Monit. doi: 10.1097/MBP.0000000000000328

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