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We all know that high blood pressure and heart disease go hand in hand. And while most of us have our blood pressure checked at our doctor’s office, it could be important to check your blood pressure at home, especially during and after exercise.
In fact, a new study has discovered that if your blood pressure goes up with physical activity — or doesn’t bounce back during recovery — it could be a signal of heart problems to come.
How hypertension and heart disease can sneak up with age
The study, performed by researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), evaluated the association between the blood pressure changes you experience during and after exercise with indicators of preclinical heart disease among participants from the Framingham Heart Study.
The Framingham Heart Study is one of the most valuable sources of research into heart conditions. Started in the 1950s and following thousands of study participants, it has continued for decades and has yielded valuable information for over 40 years.
Participants in the study were on average 58 years old. To see whether or not those blood pressure changes would lead to hypertension, disease or even death, the results were clear and, frankly, pretty scary…
Researchers found that both higher exercise systolic blood pressure (the top number in your blood pressure reading) and exercise diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) were associated with a greater risk of developing hypertension.
In other words, if your blood pressure goes up during exercise, you’re more likely to develop high blood pressure fulltime.
They also found that if it takes a while for your blood pressure to go back down (recover) post-exercise, you’re at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death.
“The way our blood pressure changes during and after exercise provides important information on whether we will develop disease in the future,” explained study author Vanessa Xanthakis, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine and biostatistics at BUSM and an Investigator for the Framingham Heart Study.
Lowering your risk of heart disease as you age
Hopefully, your numbers are in the green zone when your doctor checks your blood pressure. Remember, though, you’re usually resting at that time.
But as my grandmother used to say — an ounce of prevention is worth of pound of cure.
So, if you want to know your risks of future heart disease, break out the blood pressure cuff and check your numbers the next time that you exercise — whether you hit the gym or walk the neighborhood — to find out if you’re headed toward cardiovascular disease.
Simply put, this means that taking steps today to maintain healthy blood pressure could help you prevent heart problems or even death down the road. A few tips you might want to consider to promote “green zone” blood pressure include:
#1 — Lose any extra weight
High weight and high blood pressure go together hand-in-hand and losing even a small amount of weight can help you lower your pressure. Keep an eye not only on the numbers on the scale but your waist measurement since as a general rule:
- Men are at risk for blood pressure problems once their waist measurement exceeds 40 inches.
- For women, that not so magic number is 35 inches.
#2 — Stay active
Thirty minutes of physical activity on most days (or 150 minutes per week) can reduce your blood pressure by 5 to 8 mm Hg. Exercises the Mayo Clinic recommends are walking, jogging, swimming, dancing, cycling, high-intensity interval training and strength training.
#3 — Watch your diet
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet focuses on whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products while limiting saturated fat and cholesterol and could help you lower your blood pressure by approximately 11 mm Hg.
#4 — Limit alcohol and caffeine
Too much alcohol or caffeine (especially if you don’t normally consume caffeinated products) could elevate your pressure so be sure to limit your consumption.
In addition to these tips, I also recommend taking Peak BP Platinum™ on a daily basis. I do so myself.
It contains four powerful compounds that work synergistically to keep your pressure healthy and with it your heart, including:
- Grape seed extract — Its heart-healthy polyphenols activate the nitric oxide in the lining of your blood vessels to help them widen and improve blood flow.
- Vitamin K2 — Scientific studies have proven that taking K2 can lower your risk of blood vessels stiffening calcium deposits by 52%.
- Pterostilbene — Found in blueberries, pterostilbene is an antioxidant that helps block the creation of Angiotensin II — an enzyme that stiffens the walls of your blood vessels and triggers a hormone that increases the amounts of sodium and water retained by your body.
- Green tea extract — Phytochemicals in green tea called catechins have been shown to support against oxidative stress, supporting cardiovascular health.
Remember, your blood pressure now is your heart health or disease risk later. Do all that you can to support healthy blood pressure on a daily basis.
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High blood pressure during and after exercise may be markers for disease later in life — Boston University School of Medicine