High blood pressure and sports
Regular exercise can lower blood pressure by values between 5 and 10 mmHg. In addition, regular exercise helps to reduce body weight, which also has a protective effect. Endurance sports such as jogging, cross-country skiing, cycling, swimming, hiking or Nordic walking are particularly recommended.
Sports that involve extreme stress should be avoided, as this can lead to an unhealthy rise in blood pressure. Parallel to endurance sports, moderate strength training is also helpful, as the muscle build-up optimises the metabolism. Strong weight training should be avoided, however, as this often leads to compressed breathing, which can cause harmful peaks in high blood pressure.
The sport units should be carried out three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes. If no sport has been done for several years, the units should be increased slowly. Even if there is a lack of time, it is extremely important to carry out the training units, because exercise in general has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. Special sports groups are also recommended for people with cardiovascular diseases.
Medications for high blood pressure
If the blood pressure is permanently elevated and cannot be lowered by reducing risk factors, drug therapy must be resorted to. This is particularly important to protect the body from secondary diseases such as a heart attack or stroke. A reduction in blood pressure to values below 140/90mmHg means a significant increase in life expectancy.
There are various ways to lower blood pressure with medication. Among the most commonly prescribed drugs are the so-called ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, diuretics, calcium antagonists and angiotensin antagonists. ACE inhibitors cause the inhibition of an enzyme (angiotensin-converting enzyme, ACE) that forms the hormone angiotensin.
If the effect of the enzyme is lost, the formation and effect of angiotensin, which normally increases blood pressure, is lost. It is important that ACE inhibitors should not be used during pregnancy. A frequent side effect of this class of drugs is a dry irritable cough.
The drug group of beta-blockers lower the heart rate and ensure that stress hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline, which normally increase blood pressure, have less effect on the heart. With beta-blockers, care should be taken not to stop them suddenly, but to slowly adjust the dose, as this can lead to hypertension crises. Beta-blockers are contraindicated in asthmatics, for example, as they constrict the muscles within the bronchial tubes and can lead to shortness of breath.
Diuretics are used to increase water excretion, so that less blood circulates in the bloodstream and the pressure is lower as a result. When taking diuretics, care should be taken not to excrete too much water, which can lead to dehydration of the body. Particularly on hot days and after sporting activities, care should be taken to ensure an adequate fluid intake.
Especially old people are at risk. Signs of dehydration or imminent dehydration are dry mouth, muscle weakness and increasing confusion. Opponents of calcium, the calcium antagonists, cause the vessels to dilate, while calcium normally constricts the vessels.
Side effects of calcium antagonists include facial flushing, skin rashes and heart palpitations. The so-called Sartane or angiotensin antagonists inhibit the action of the hormone angiotensin, which is used to raise blood pressure. Accordingly, they have a similar effect to ACE inhibitors.
Overall, the drug therapy of high blood pressure can lead to a feeling of listlessness and exhaustion in the initial phase of the therapy, as the body has to get used to the lower blood pressure only after it has been permanently raised for a long time. In order to reduce the side effects of the medication, it is helpful to start with a low dose of the medication at the beginning, so that the body gets used to it slowly and then increase the dose later. In many patients, one medication alone is not sufficient to adjust the blood pressure, so that a second and sometimes third medication must be used.
In some cases, it is then advisable to take one of the medications in the evening, as in some patients the blood pressure does not drop in the evening, as is usual for healthy people, but is then also raised at night. In ten percent of cases, high blood pressure is caused by secondary causes, such as a narrowing of the renal arteries or an overproduction of hormones in the kidney (hyperaldosteronism). In these cases, the underlying disease must be treated because the usual medications for high blood pressure do not work for this type of hypertension. As this topic can only be touched upon here, you can find out much more on the page: Medications for high blood pressure