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Hypertension and Sports Simplified…

October 2, 2012

 

After hearing of so many potential complications one may develop from it, one of the greatest fears we have is of being diagnosed with hypertension (High Blood Pressure). But what does High Blood Pressure encompass? How high is high enough? Do we really need medications?

I will briefly explain different options so we don’t have to fear going to a doctor for our yearly physical. Prevention is key, but control is just another key that will open the lock to the treasure chest of a good, healthy life.
Hypertension is the most common cardiovascular condition. Risk of developing it increase with our increasing age. Due to their fitness levels, athletes are believed to be free of hypertension. The concept is not entirely true. Athletics and exercise lowers the chance of developing hypertension, and can sometimes help us reduce or even eliminate medications altogether.
Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower
Pre-hypertension is 120-139/80-89
Hypertension Stage I 140-159/90-99
Hypertension Stage II 160/100 -at this stage, significant problems develop
Now, how do we manage it?
-Decrease of sodium (e.g. salt) intake is important
-Weight management: the less weight, the easier for our heart to work
-Lifestyle changes: smoking cessation, reduction of alcohol consumption
-Avoidance of anabolic steroids
-Medications: occasional usage of medications, depending on the particular case and Stage
Vigorous exercise helps lower the risk of hypertension. Regular cardiovascular exercise also lowers it by anywhere from 5-15 units. Now, not just any exercise will do. it is important to consult a certified trainer and/or Physician (or Sports Medicine Physician) to design an exercise program that will allow blood pressure to be optimized. Changes are usually noticeable after just 4 weeks of training, again, if done correctly.

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