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Am J Cardiol. 1990 Sep 15;66(7):731-6.

Exaggerated pressure response to exercise in men at risk for systemic hypertension.

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Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104.


Normotensive persons at high risk of developing systemic hypertension have greater cardiovascular reactivity to mental and physical stressors. This study compared cardiovascular responses to exercise in normotensive men (aged 28 +/- 0.8 years [mean +/- standard error of the mean]) at high risk (positive parental history and high normal resting blood pressure [BP], n = 20) and at low risk (negative history, low normal BP, n = 15) of hypertension. All men had normal body weight and exercise tolerance. During graded supine bicycle exercise, 35% (7 of 20) of high-risk men had exaggerated BP responses (greater than or equal to 230/100 mm Hg) versus 0% of low-risk men, thus forming 3 groups (low risk, high-risk normal BP response, high-risk exaggerated response). Cardiac function was measured by nuclear cardiography. Cardiac index, peripheral resistance index, left ventricular ejection fraction and contractility index were measured at rest and during each exercise work load. High-risk exaggerated responders could not be distinguished from their high-risk normal-responding counterparts using resting BP or other cardiovascular variables. During exercise all 3 groups had equivalent increases in cardiac output. However, the high-risk exaggerated responders had blunting in peripheral resistance decline, resulting in excessive BP increases. This finding suggests an impaired capacity for exercise-induced vasodilation, indicating that the exaggerated response group may be at highest risk for future hypertension in these 3 groups.

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