Jump to:  A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J   |   K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O   |   P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T   |   U   |   V   |   W   |   X   |   Y

Take High Blood Pressure Meds? Exercise Might Work Just as Well

Take High Blood Pressure Meds? Exercise Might Work Just as Well

TUESDAY, Dec. 18, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- If you have high blood pressure, hitting the gym may be as helpful as taking drugs to lower your numbers, researchers say.

There's "compelling evidence that combining endurance and dynamic resistance training was effective in reducing [blood pressure]," according to the authors of a new report.

The British researchers stressed that it's still too early to recommend that people toss their antihypertensive meds, and exercise instead -- there's not yet been a head-to-head trial of drugs versus exercise for blood pressure.

But comparing the numbers from hundreds of blood pressure trials involving either exercise or medication suggests they have the same benefit, said the team led by Huseyin Naci. He's a health policy researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

For now, one U.S. expert said, exercise should be considered an "and" rather than an "or" when it comes to treating high blood pressure.

"Exercise is a pillar in the foundation of treatment for hypertension, but for those patients that require drug therapy, exercise is not a replacement for medication," said Dr. Guy Mintz. He directs cardiovascular health at the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.

The new research was published online Dec. 18 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

In the study, Naci's team analyzed data from 197 clinical trials that assessed the effects of structured workouts on lowering systolic blood pressure, the top number in a reading. The investigators also looked at data from 194 trials that examined the impact of prescription drugs on blood pressure. In total, the studies included nearly 40,000 people.

Overall, blood pressure was lower in people treated with drugs than in those who did an exercise regimen, the researchers reported. However, for people with high blood pressure in particular -- systolic readings over 140 mm Hg -- exercise appeared just as effective as most drugs in lowering blood pressure.

Also, the effectiveness of exercise against high blood pressure rose the higher the threshold that was used to define high blood pressure -- anything above 140 mm Hg.

The types of exercise in the studies included: endurance, such as walking, jogging, running, cycling and swimming; dynamic resistance, such as strength training with weights; isometric resistance, such as the static push-ups (planks); and a combination of endurance and resistance.

Naci and his colleagues stressed that there were no studies in which exercise and blood pressure-lowering drugs were compared head-to-head, and the number of people in some of the studies was relatively small.

All of that means that, for now, people shouldn't try to replace blood pressure meds with exercise.

"We don't think, on the basis of our study, that patients should stop taking their antihypertensive medications," Naci said in a journal news release. "But we hope that our findings will inform evidence-based discussions between clinicians and their patients."

Another U.S. heart specialist agreed with that assessment.

"Exercise, at any risk level for cardiovascular disease, is shown to improve not only how long one lives, but also lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes," noted Dr. Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

People who are already taking a high blood pressure medication are among "the best to benefit from exercise," Bhusri said.

"It is possible to slowly take patients off blood pressure medications as they improve their lifestyle with exercise and diet management, but for most this is a very difficult goal to reach," Bhusri stressed. So, "we do not recommend stopping medications until close observation and discussion with their physician," he explained.

For his part, Mintz said exercise works its magic against high blood pressure through a combination of weight loss, improved artery health and changes in chemicals controlling blood flow.

"I feel that patients should adhere to the current exercise guidelines in the United States, of performing moderate exercise of 150 minutes per week (30 minutes, five times a week), or vigorous exercise for 75 minutes per week," he said. "This is a reasonable and obtainable goal for patients, as an adjunct to appropriate diet."

But for most people with high blood pressure, "exercise alone will not be enough to control their blood pressure," and that's where medication comes in, Mintz said.

"Patients should not stop their medications, even if they are involved in a regular aerobic exercise program, unless consistent control of their hypertension is corroborated by their physician," he said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines how to prevent high blood pressure.

SOURCES: Satjit Bhusri, M.D., cardiologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Guy L. Mintz, M.D., director of cardiovascular health and lipidology, Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y.; British Journal of Sports Medicine, news release, Dec. 18, 2018

Reviewed Date: --

Find a pediatrician
Dr. Rose Cummings
Dr. Alexander Ellis
Dr. Robert Escalera II
Dr. Jonathan Fleenor
Dr. Lopa Hartke
Dr. John Reed
Dr. Elliot Tucker
Dr. Michael Vance
Children's Cardiac Surgery
Dr. James Gangemi
Dr. Philip Smith
Dr. Sarah Chagnon
Dr. Thomas Enlow
Dr. L. Matthew Frank
Dr. Ralph Northam
Dr. Crystal Proud
Dr. Svinder Toor
Dr. Ryan Williams
Health Tips
High Blood Pressure: Kids Can Have It, Too
Making Family Fitness Fun
Heart Health Quiz
Heart Quiz for Women Only
Swimming Quiz
5 Health Symptoms Women Shouldn’t Ignore
7 Ways to Sneak Microbursts of Activity into Your Day
Breastfeeding May Lower Women’s Postmenopausal Stroke Risk
Don’t Resist Resistance Bands
Early Obesity Can Change Heart Structure
Eat This, Not That to Manage Your Chronic Disease
Get Moving to Control Your Blood Sugar
Hot, Hot, Hot! Exercise Safely in Summer
How to Get Started with a Walking Program
Is Exercise Giving You a Headache?
It’s Personal: New Guidelines Recommend Customizing Cholesterol Treatment Plans
Ladies: Take Care of Your Heart at Every Age
Making “Cents” of High Blood Pressure
Modifying Your Workout
Simple Steps Toward Living a Healthier, More Active Life
Sleep, Exercise, Screen Time: Help Your Teen Adopt Healthy Habits
Strategies for Heading Off Heart Attacks
When a Chronic Disease Runs in Your Family
Diseases & Conditions
Anomalous Coronary Artery in Children
Chronic Hypertension and Pregnancy
Exercise and Children
Exercise and Teenagers
High Blood Pressure in Children and Teens
Home Page - Cardiovascular Disorders
Pregnancy and Medical Conditions
Pregnancy and Pre-existing Heart Disease

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.