Cardiovascular responses to an isometric handgrip exercise in females with prehypertension

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Background: Hypertensive individuals are known to exhibit greater increases in blood pressure during an isometric handgrip exercise (IHE) than their normotensive counterparts. Aim: This study tests the hypothesis that, compared to normotensive individuals, prehypertensive individuals exhibit an exaggerated response to IHE. Materials and Methods: In this study, the effects of IHE were compared in matched prehypertensive vs. normotensive healthy African-American females. Six healthy young adult African-American female university students were screened in a physician's office for blood pressure in the range of prehypertension, systolic blood pressure (SBP) 120-139 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) 80-89 mmHg. Six young adult African-American women were also recruited to serve as a healthy normotensive control group with SBP ≤119 mmHg and DBP ≤79 mmHg. Cardiovascular fitness was determined by peak oxygen uptake (VO2 peak) measured during a progressive exercise test. Results: During the handgrip exercise, the prehypertensive group exhibited greater increases in SBP (from 139 ± 6 to 205 ± 11 mmHg, +48%) than the controls (from 132 ± 3 to 145 ± 3 mmHg, +10%); intergroup difference P < 30.001. The prehypertensive group also exhibited greater increases in DBP (from 77 ± 2 to 112 ± 5 mmHg, +46%) compared to the controls (from 72 ± 3 to 78 ± 4 mmHg, +8%); intergroup difference P < 0.001. The increase in systemic vascular resistance was also greater in the prehypertensive group (from 1713 ± 91 to 2807 ± 370 dyne.s.cm -5, +64%) than in the controls (from 1668 ± 80 to 1812 ± 169 dyne.s.cm -5, +9%); intergroup difference P < 0.05. Conclusion: These results suggest that blood pressure measurements performed during IHE may be a useful screening tool in evaluating prehypertensive individuals for antihypertensive treatments.

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