Hypertension or high blood pressure is a condition that affects billions globally and is one of the risk factors of cardiac arrest and stroke. A long-termeffect of persistent high blood pressure is dementia (loss of memory). According to the prevalence estimation of WHO, one in every four men and every fifth woman are suffering from hypertension. It is well known as a “silent killer” as many affected by it, won’t even know. The risks of developing hypertension can be reduced by many different lifestyle modifications including exercise.
Recently, a prospective cohort of more than 5000 young adults, both black and white men and women ranging from 18 to 30 years were studied by researchers at the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California. The study suggests that those teenagers who want protection against hypertension as they age, should exercise at higher than recommended ‘moderate physical activity levels’, that is; should play longer and harder up through middle age.
The recruited 5115 adults were tracked over three decades with physical assessment and questionnaires about exercise habits, alcohol intake, and smoking status. The participants were grouped into 4 categories based on their race and gender. Their blood pressure was measured thrice with a difference of one minute in each reading. The data analysis showed that levels of physical activity collapsed with age, hypertension rate rising, and physical activity dropping subsequently over decades.
The study indicated that young adulthood is a vital time for the prevention of midlife hypertension by simply boosting exercise. An important finding of the research was that half of the participants in young adulthood had sub-optimal physical activity levels, which was associated with the onset of hypertension. This suggests that the minimum standard for physical activity should be raised. The researchers noticed an interesting observed that those participants who have doubled the time and intensity of exercise than what’s currently recommended by American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association guidelines have lowered the risk of hypertension considerably, especially if people maintained their exercise habits until age 60.
The study also put into the spotlight a well-known racial disparity. The health trajectories for black and white men at the age of 40 and on-wards are very different. Physical activity levels plateaued among the white population at the age of 40, while it declines in their black counterparts. By the age of 45, black women surpassed white men in rates of hypertension, whereas, white women experienced the lowest rate of hypertension. Eventually by the age of 60 some 80 – 90 percent of black men and women had hypertension, whereas, their white counterparts remained below 70 and 50 %. The reason for that could be socioeconomic factors, that weren’t included in the study.
Hypertension, exercise, blood pressure.