Explaining Blood Pressure Spikes During Exercise

Study identifies possible cause of hypertension that shows up in healthy folks

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THURSDAY, April 15, 2004 (HealthDayNews) --Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions say they may have identified what causes "exercise hypertension," an abnormally high spike in blood pressure that can occur in normally healthy people when they exercise.

Exercise hypertension is a known risk factor for permanent and serious high blood pressure at rest. But the cause of exercise hypertension has been unclear.

This new study suggests it may be caused by the failure of endothelial cells that line the blood vessels to let the arteries expand to accommodate the increased blood flow that occurs when a person exercises.

"Our study shows that this impaired ability of the endothelial cells, which control large blood vessel relaxation, is a potential cause of exercise hypertension," study author Kerry J. Stewart, director of clinical exercise physiology, said in a prepared statement.

"Because as many as 90 percent of adults are at risk for developing high blood pressure, knowing this may point to a cellular target for preventive therapies," Stewart said.

The study appears in the April issue of the American Journal of Hypertension.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about hypertension.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, news release, April 2004

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