Exercise training helps patients with high blood pressure, or “hypertension,” control their heart rate and reduce their blood pressure, new research shows.
In the study, Dr. Mateus C. Laterza of the Heart Institute, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil and colleagues had 11 hypertensive patients in their mid-40s participate in three hour-long exercise training sessions per week for 4 months. Another 9 hypertensive patients did not participate in exercise training. A group of 12 individuals with normal blood pressure was also studied.
The results showed that exercise training seemed to improve the nerve reflexes that help control blood pressure and heart rate. This was associated with a drop in blood pressure for the hypertensive patients.
The researchers note that weakened nerve reflexes have been shown previously to be a risk factor for sudden death after heart attacks. “Thus, it is reasonable to expect that the improvement in (nerve activity) plays a protective role in hypertensive patients,” they write.
SOURCE: Hypertension, June 2007.