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Am Heart J. 1997 Feb;133(2):162-8.

Exaggerated blood pressure response to exercise in children with increased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

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  • 1Division of Pediatric Cardiology, State University of New York Health Science Center, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA.


Arterial vascular responses are characteristically altered with hypercholesterolemia: conduit vessels manifest increased stiffness, and conduit and resistance vessels demonstrate impaired endothelium-dependent dilation and augmented vasoconstriction to neurohumoral stimulation. These changes should be reflected in an exaggerated blood pressure increase in response to exercise. To evaluate this hypothesis, we compared the blood pressure response to treadmill exercise in children with hypercholesterolemia and children with normal lipid levels. In a preliminary retrospective study, 15 hypercholesterolemic boys 10 to 18 years old underwent treadmill exercise testing, and their blood pressure results were compared with those of 32 normolipidemic children in the same age group who had undergone treadmill exercise electively in the same time period. In the second phase, 10 hypercholesterolemic boys and 10 normolipidemic age-matched boys were evaluated prospectively according to the same protocol. Treadmill exercise involved a modified Bruce protocol with heart rate and blood pressure measured before exercise, immediately after exercise, and throughout recovery. Office blood pressures were normal in all children, with no significant difference between groups. With treadmill exercise, all subjects achieved >95% of predicted maximum heart rate and endurance times, maximum oxygen consumption, and maximum respiratory ratio did not differ between groups. Results of the retrospective and prospective groups were similar and were therefore combined. Children with increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol had significantly higher systolic and diastolic blood pressures immediately before treadmill exercise (systolic 120 +/- 13 mm Hg vs 113 +/- 13 mm Hg, p < 0.03; diastolic 68 +/- 8 mm Hg vs 63 +/- 9 mm Hg, p < 0.01). After exercise, blood pressures were again significantly higher in the subjects with high LDL cholesterol (systolic 182 +/- 20 mm Hg vs 160 +/- 23 mm Hg, p < 0.0003; diastolic 77 +/- 12 mm Hg vs 72 +/- 9 mm Hg, p < 0.03). At the end of recovery, systolic blood pressures remained significantly higher in subjects with high LDL cholesterol (120 +/- 9 mm Hg vs 112 +/- 12 mm Hg, p < 0.005). In this study, children with severely increased LDL cholesterol had an exaggerated blood pressure response to exercise when compared with normolipidemic control subjects. The study findings suggest that control of arterial vascular tone may already be altered in children with hypercholesterolemia.

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