Different studies have yielded conflicting results regarding the association of hypertensive response to exercise and cardiovascular morbidity. We compared two different definitions of exaggerated hypertensive response to exercise and their association with cardio-respiratory fitness in a population of healthy firefighters. We examined blood pressure response to exercise in 720 normotensive male career firefighters. Fitness was measured as peak metabolic equivalent tasks (METs) achieved during maximal exercise treadmill tests. Abnormal hypertensive response was defined either as systolic blood pressure ≥ 200 mm Hg; or alternatively, as responses falling in the upper tertile of blood pressure change from rest to exertion, divided by the maximal workload achieved. Using the simple definition of a 200 mm Hg cutoff at peak exercise less fit individuals (METs ≤12) were protected from an exaggerated hypertensive response (OR 0.45, 95%CI 0.30-0.67). However, using the definition of exercise-induced hypertension that corrects for maximal workload, less fit firefighters had almost twice the risk (OR 1.8, 95%CI 1.3-2.47). Blood pressure change corrected for maximal workload is better correlated with cardiorespiratory fitness. Systolic blood pressure elevation during peak exercise likely represents an adaptive response, whereas elevation out of proportion to the maximal workload may indicate insufficient vasodilation and a maladaptive response. Prospective studies are needed to best define exaggerated blood pressure response to exercise.
- Cardiorespiratory fitness
- exercise induced hypertension
- exercise stress test
- hypertensive response to exercise
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine