High Blood Pressure a Health Risk in Athletes

Regular, moderate-intensity exercise reduces resting blood pressure, which can decrease the risk of stroke, heart attack, erectile dysfunction and kidney disease. Many health experts assume that the beneficial effects of exercise transfer to competitive athletes. This could be a mistake, according to a review of literature by Norwegian researchers. Studies of more than 138,000 athletes showed no evidence that blood pressure was lower in athletes than non-athletes. Power athletes with enlarged hearts (left ventricular hypertrophy) showed higher blood pressure, but the results might have been affected by body size and the use of anabolic drugs. The researchers noted that the studies varied in blood pressure measurement techniques, which might have influenced the results. Competitive athletics do not protect athletes from high blood pressure. (British Journal Sports Medicine, published online January 28, 2015)

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