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High Blood Pressure Response to Exercise Foretells Stroke, Study Finds

According to a study, the risk of stroke increases when the difference between resting and maximal activity systolic blood pressure (SBP) grows, regardless of BP at rest. This suggests that a high blood pressure response to exercise is an independent predictor of stroke.

High Blood Pressure Response to Exercise Foretells Stroke, Study Finds
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Out of the 2,014 men who took part in the Oslo Ischemia Study in the 1970s, this study looked at the baseline data of 1,392 men who remained healthy and completed bicycle exercise tests both at baseline and 7 years afterwards. The difference between resting and maximal SBP at baseline was used to split participants into quartiles.

The researchers calculated the risk of stroke using Cox proportional hazard, controlling for resting blood pressure, age, smoking, serum cholesterol, and physical fitness. They followed participants for 35 years, until they had their first ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke.

174 (89 percent) of the 195 strokes that occurred were ischemic. Age, resting SBP, resting diastolic BP, and SBP at moderate and maximal exertion all showed significant positive correlations with stroke risk in univariate analysis.

In multivariate analysis, SBP quartile 4 (SBP >99 mm Hg) had a 2.6-fold greater risk of stroke (p0.0001) compared to SBP quartile 2 (SBP 73–85 mm Hg), which had the lowest risk of stroke. Furthermore, SBP quartile 1 was linked to a 1.7-fold higher risk of stroke than quartile 2, demonstrating a J-shaped relationship.

“Previous research has linked intermediate workload exercise BP to coronary disease, whereas maximal exercise BP has been linked to stroke,” the researchers explained.


Source: J Hypertens 2021;39:2022-2029

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