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      Too Old to Benefit from Sports? The Cardiovascular Effects of Exercise Training in Elderly Subjects Treated for Isolated Systolic Hypertension

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          Background: Hypertension in the elderly is commonly characterized by an elevation of pulse pressure. With regard to advanced arteriosclerosis and limited physical fitness, doubt was casted whether elderly patients still achieve relevant cardiovascular benefits by physical exercise. The present work examines the impact of pulse pressure as a footprint of vascular ageing on cardiovascular benefits of endurance training in elderly hypertensives. Methods: 54 patients ≧60 years with systolic 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure (ABP) >140 mm Hg and/or antihypertensive treatment and diastolic ABP ≤90 mm Hg were randomly assigned to sedentary activity or a 12-week treadmill exercise program (target lactate 2.5 ± 0.5 mmol/l). Results: Exercise significantly decreased systolic and diastolic ABP by 8.5 ± 8.2 and 5.1 ± 3.7 mm Hg (p < 0.001 each) and increased physical performance. Arterial compliance remained unchanged, whereas endothelium-dependent vasodilation – measured by flow-mediated dilation – significantly increased from 5.6 ± 1.7 to 7.9 ± 3.0% (p < 0.007). After adjustment for initial systolic ABP, pulse pressure did not affect the change of BP. Conclusion: The exercise-induced reduction of BP, which is mediated by improved endothelial function, is independent of pulse pressure. Thus, physical exercise is a helpful adjunct to control BP even in old hypertensives with markedly increased arterial stiffness.

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          Most cited references 19

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          Effect of exercise on coronary endothelial function in patients with coronary artery disease.

          Studies of the cardioprotective effects of exercise training in patients with coronary artery disease have yielded contradictory results. Exercise training has been associated with improvement in myocardial perfusion even in patients who have progression of coronary atherosclerosis. We therefore conducted a prospective study of the effect of exercise training on endothelial function in patients with coronary artery disease. We randomly assigned 19 patients with coronary endothelial dysfunction, indicated by abnormal acetylcholine-induced vasoconstriction, to an exercise-training group (10 patients) or a control group (9 patients). To reduce confounding, patients with coronary risk factors that could be influenced by exercise training (such as diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and smoking) were excluded. In an initial study and after four weeks, the changes in vascular diameter in response to the intracoronary infusion of increasing doses of acetylcholine (0.072, 0.72, and 7.2 microg per minute) were assessed. The mean peak flow velocity was measured by Doppler velocimetry, and the diameter of epicardial coronary vessels was measured by quantitative coronary angiography. In the initial study, the two groups had similar vasoconstrictive responses to acetylcholine. After four weeks of exercise training, coronary-artery constriction in response to acetylcholine at a dose of 7.2 microg per minute was reduced by 54 percent (from a mean [+/-SE] decrease in the luminal diameter of 0.41+/-0.05 mm in the initial study to a decrease of 0.19+/-0.07 mm at four weeks; P<0.05 for the comparison with the change in the control group). In the exercise-training group, the increases in mean peak flow velocity in response to 0.072, 0.72, and 7.2 microg of acetylcholine per minute were 12+/-7, 36+/-11, and 78+/-16 percent, respectively, in the initial study. After four weeks of exercise, the increases in response to acetylcholine were 27+/-7, 73+/-19, and 142+/-28 percent (P<0.01 for the comparison with the control group). Coronary blood-flow reserve (the ratio of the mean peak flow velocity after adenosine infusion to the resting velocity) increased by 29 percent after four weeks of exercise (from 2.8+/-0.2 in the initial study to 3.6+/-0.2 after four weeks; P<0.01 for the comparison with the control group). Exercise training improves endothelium-dependent vasodilatation both in epicardial coronary vessels and in resistance vessels in patients with coronary artery disease.
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            Guidelines for management of hypertension: report of the fourth working party of the British Hypertension Society, 2004-BHS IV.

             S Thom,  G McInnes,   (2004)
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              Exercise and Hypertension


                Author and article information

                Kidney Blood Press Res
                Kidney and Blood Pressure Research
                S. Karger AG
                July 2007
                15 June 2007
                : 30
                : 4
                : 240-247
                aMedizinische Klinik IV, Nephrology, Charité – Campus Benjamin Franklin (CBF); bDepartment of Cardiology, Charité – Campus Virchow Klinikum; cDepartment of Biostatistics and Clinical Epidemiology, Charité – CBF, and dMedizinische Klinik III, Section of Sports Medicine, Charité – CBF, Berlin, Germany
                104093 Kidney Blood Press Res 2007;30:240–247
                © 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 2, References: 32, Pages: 8
                Original Paper


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