Wihle across all populations, individuals who receive antihypertensive medications to lower blood pressure tend to achieve greater reductions in systolic blood pressure than those who adopt structured exercise regimens, in hypertensive populations (=140 mmHg), different types of exercise interventions appear to be as equally effective as most antihypertensive medications, a large analysis suggests.

Combined data from nearly 400 randomized trials assessed the effects of blood pressure drugs or of exercise on blood pressure: overall, each lowered blood pressure by nearly 9 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) in patients with hypertension.

The study’s lead author Huseyin Naci and colleagues looked at 194 randomized controlled trials that tested the impact of anti-hypertensive drugs in people with high blood pressure or with elevated blood pressure that put them at risk of hypertension, and 197 trials in similar groups that tested the effect of exercise.

They also included data from past analyses that combined data from these kinds of trials: Naci’s team had data for 10,461 volunteers in exercise trials and 29,281 in medication trials.

Exercise interventions have indisputable benefits for cardiovascular disease and beyond.

According to a pooled analysis of observational cohort studies, men and women with high levels of leisure time physical activity had a 24% and 27% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, respectively, than men and women with low levels of physical activity.

In addition, previous meta-analyses of RCTs showed that exercise is effective in improving established cardiovascular risk factors: exercise interventions reduce waist circumference, improve glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c), lower serum triglycerides and increase high-density lipoprotein.

See also
Exercise and Vitamin D Better Together for Heart Health (2017-05-05)

For more information
British Journal of Sports Medicine
How does exercise treatment compare with antihypertensive medications? A network meta-analysis of 391 randomised controlled trials assessing exercise and medication effects on systolic blood pressure

Exercise measures up to medication as antihypertensive therapy: its value has long been underestimated

The London School of Economics and Political Science


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