By Piriya Mahendra
Researchers have found evidence that shows exercise intensity mediates the progression from prehypertension to hypertension.
Progression from prehypertension to hypertension was prevented by a fitness level exceeding 8.5 metabolic equivalents (METs), which corresponds to a brisk walk of 20-40 minutes most days of the week in middle-aged and older individuals, they report in Hypertension.
"Since walking requires virtually no instructions, has a relatively low cost, carries a low risk of injury, and can be easily implemented to large populations, it may constitute an effective intervention to mitigate the progression to hypertension," remark Peter Kokkinos (Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Washington DC, USA) and team.
Not surprisingly, they found that the risk for developing hypertension became progressively higher as exercise capacity decreased.
In particular, compared with "high-fit" individuals, defined as those who achieved a peak MET of more than 10 METs, the rate of developing hypertension was 1.36 for individuals classed as "moderate-fit" (8.6-10.0 METs), 1.66 for "low-fit" individuals (6.6-8.5 METs), and 1.72 for the "least-fit" individuals (≤6.5 METs).
Trend analysis showed an S-shaped association between fit categories and risk for hypertension, suggesting that the least-fit and low-fit categories demonstrated a similar increase in risk as the high-fit category.
"The most pronounced and very similar increase in risk occurred in the two lowest-fit categories, suggesting an S-shaped association. These health benefits are attainable at moderate levels of fitness," emphasize Kokkinos and team.
The study included 2303 prehypertensive individuals, of whom 728 (31.6%) developed hypertension over a median follow-up period of 7.8 years.
Prehypertension was defined as a resting systolic blood pressure of 120-139 mmHg and/or a resting diastolic blood pressure of 80-89 mmHg, absence of antihypertensive or cardiac medication apart from statins, and a lack of cardiovascular disease history.
"Fitness attenuates the risk for developing hypertension, regardless of age, body mass index, and other traditional risk factors," conclude the authors.
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