High blood pressure: Simple hand exercise may result in ‘substantial reductions’ in BP

Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure

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High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of mortality around the world, contributing to 20 percent of all deaths, according to the Lancet’s Global Burden of Disease report. Those seeking to lower their reading are encouraged to undertake a simple yet effective exercise which you can do at home.

Handgrip strength can help both women and men reduce the dangers associated with high blood pressure.

Results from studies have found after eight weeks of the isometric exercises, three times a week, reductions of 12.5 in subjects’ systolic blood pressure (the top number given in your blood pressure) and 14.9 in their diastolic blood pressure.

No one has been able to adequately explain why the handgrip exercise works so well.

Evidence for an effective physical method for treating hypertension, by brief, maximal, extensive isometric exercise has been published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

It was demonstrated that blood pressure was reduced in four to eight weeks after the initiation of a regimen of isometric exercises.

Further bolstering claims it is potentially one of the best exercises for lowering your blood pressure.

A meta-analysis suggests that a simple programme of isometric exercise, in bouts of 20 minutes undertaken three times a week, with a weekly exercise time of one hour, can reduce systolic blood pressure by about 10 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by about 7 mm Hg, in roughly 10 weeks.

“The results are very substantial reductions, comparable with those achieved with a single pharmacological agent and substantially more than the 3 mm Hg or so reduction resulting from regular dynamic exercise or from resistance exercise,” noted the study.

It continued: “The greater reductions in resting blood pressure for isometric exercise compared with other modes of exercise suggest that there might be a more powerful effect on resting blood pressure from isometric exercise.

“There are a number of possible explanations for this.

“The type of participant recruited in the various studies, and included in the meta-analyses, is important, particularly the inclusion of studies that have used older hypertensive subjects.

“In sensitivity analysis, however, after removal of the non-randomised study, there was no between-trial heterogeneity.

“Thus, indicating that the findings are robust across all age groups and between hypertensive and normotensive subjects.”

The findings from this meta-analysis are based on only five small, albeit consistent studies, including 122 subjects.

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