Exercise with resistance causes elevated blood pressure levels. The levels are temporary, but if they were noted in a resting individual, the doctor would send that individual to the emergency room for drug therapy to immediately lower the blood pressure. The following study of experienced body builders reports elevated blood pressure during weight lifting. The question that comes to mind is whether healthy, fit individuals have elastic vessels that tolerate temporary pressure increases that would put unhealthy individuals at risk of stroke or other vessel injury. A question also exists whether excessive pressures put healthy individuals at risk or bring injury to hidden anomalies in vessels. The authors of this study report that use of smaller muscles at near repetition max levels also bring large increases in blood pressure, which points out that even strenuous activities of daily living can cause elevated pressure. Other studies also address the concern of excessive pressure effect on the left ventricular wall of the heart.
Arterial blood pressure response to heavy resistance exercise.
The purpose of this study was to record the blood pressure response to heavy weight-lifting exercise in five experienced body builders. Blood pressure was directly recorded by means of a capacitance transducer connected to a catheter in the brachial artery. Intrathoracic pressure with the Valsalva maneuver was recorded as mouth pressure by having the subject maintain an open glottis while expiring against a column of Hg during the lifts. Exercises included single-arm curls, overhead presses, and both double- and single-leg presses performed to failure at 80, 90, 95, and 100% of maximum. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures rose rapidly to extremely high values during the concentric contraction phase for each lift and declined with the eccentric contraction. The greatest peak pressures occurred during the double-leg press where the mean value for the group was 320/250 mmHg, with pressures in one subject exceeding 480/350 mmHg. Peak pressures with the single-arm curl exercise reached a mean group value of 255/190 mmHg when repetitions were continued to failure. Mouth pressures of 30-50 Torr during a single maximum lift, or as subjects approached failure with a submaximal weight, indicate that a portion of the observed increase in blood pressure was caused by a Valsalva maneuver. It was concluded that when healthy young subjects perform weight-lifting exercises the mechanical compression of blood vessels combines with a potent pressor response and a Valsalva response to produce extreme elevations in blood pressure. Pressures are extreme even when exercise is performed with a relatively small muscle mass.
PMID: 3980383 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]