Isometric movements can help keep blood pressure levels within limits particularly at the onset of hypertension and the low cost of the activity favors adherence to the practice
L’hypertension one of the main modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular death worldwide and physical exercise, especially at the onset of the problem, plays a crucial role in keeping blood pressure under control. But what are the recommended activities for this purpose?
Not just walks
We usually recommend our patients laerobic exercise, cio l’endurancebased on exercise of light and moderate cardiovascular effort to be repeated very constantly and frequently over time, he says Daniel Andreini, director of the Monzino Sport Center in Milan and professor of Cardiology at the University of Milan. An example are walks, or exercise bikes or running with moderate intensity and without external loads that induce resistance. These are the activities suitable for both hypertensive, as well as patients with metabolic syndrome with high cholesterolbut also to more complex patients with known coronary artery disease because this kind of activity, now amply demonstrated, brings many cardiovascular benefits.
All in place
Recently, however, scientific literature has suggested that even theisometric exercise has the ability to reduce blood pressure. Isometrics are a form of static muscle contraction. Isometric exercises are essentially stationary movements train muscle powerwhere what counts is the endurance of each execution: it must not be less than 20 seconds or exceed 30. They can be performed free-body (for example plank, abs) or with the help of a machine in the gym.
The new research
In particular, a meta-analysis by an Australian working group of the University of New South Wales, recently published in the journal
, took into consideration 1,140 people with an average age of 56 years, demonstrating that this type of exercise, if performed on a regular basis, is able to lower the systolic blood pressure (the maximum) by 7 millimeters of mercury and the diastolic (the minimum) of 4 millimeters of mercury. It is a minor effectnot comparable to what can be obtained with pharmacological treatment, but significant for those in a borderline phase and must bring values within the recommended ranges.
The new analysis shows us something rather new, first of all that isometric exercise appears to be safe in hypertensive subjects because a significant number of adverse events was not recorded, comments Andreini who, however, specifies: Isometric exercise is recommended only for those with mild to moderate hypertension or to those who, thanks to pharmacological therapy, keep their blood pressure levels under control. I would not recommend for this activity to complex heart patients, such as those who have undergone coronary surgery or have had a heart attack, for whom aerobic exercise remains essential, even just walking constantly and continuously, trying to abandon laziness, perhaps choosing to walk at least one bus stop or not to take the lift, unless chest pain occurs of course.
The simplicity and low cost of isometric exercises (they can be done anywhere) are one stimulus to adherence to the practice of the activity also because they allow you to train in a short time and are also useful for individuals who, despite having mobility problems, can still increase muscle mass and strength, thus becoming an alternative and valid option for those who are reluctant to exercise.
Isometric exercise — reflects the cardiologist — a good approach in the initial forms of hypertension when there is still no clear indication whether to start drug therapy or not. Physical exercise associated with little dietary attention can delay the start of treatment by a few years with medicines, with all the associated advantages, both economic and linked to the possible, albeit rare, side effects of the medicines. The meta-analysis does not specify which isometric exercises are best for keeping blood pressure under control. A prospective randomized study would be useful to find out.
Adherence to therapy
It must be clear that thePhysical activity is a real therapy because in the initial phase of hypertension it completely replaces drugs, therefore what is defined as adherence to therapy also applies to sport.
Patients must identify an activity they like, and with isomeric exercises the range of choices widens, concludes Andreini. If physical activity is experienced as a constraint, patients will commit themselves just a couple of days after the cardiological visit, and then abandon their good intentions, with the further damage that they are not following drug therapy. For this, a pact between doctor and patient is needed, otherwise it is better to focus on medicines immediately.
How to lower blood pressure
Blood pressure drops significantly if you lose excess weight, cut down on alcohol, switch to a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains and low in fat. Obviously, it is also necessary to contain the sodium intake and increase the potassium intake. Finally, physical exercise is necessary: every time you do aerobic activity, your blood pressure drops visibly, and if you practice it regularly, the benefits are evident.
What to eat to lower blood pressure
Hypertension is one of the risk factors for mortality from cardiovascular disease and explains 40% of deaths from stroke and 25% from coronary heart disease. Some foods can be of great help in keeping blood pressure under control: beetroot, cocoa (in moderation), blueberries, garlic, chilli pepper, tomato, beetroot.
March 24, 2023 (change March 24, 2023 | 06:41)
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