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Modulation of blood pressure response to exercise by physical activity and relationship with resting blood pressure during pregnancy

Bisson, Michèlea; Rhéaume, Carolineb,c; Bujold, Emmanueld; Tremblay, Angeloe; Marc, Isabellea

doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000000185

Objective: To determine whether physical activity and blood pressure (BP) response to exercise in early pregnancy are related to resting BP at the end of pregnancy. Understanding physiological BP responses to exercise during pregnancy will help in improving BP profile and guiding exercise recommendations in pregnant women.

Methods: Maternal physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2peak) and BP (systolic and diastolic) at rest and during exercise (submaximal and relative response) were assessed at 16 weeks of gestation in 61 normotensive pregnant women. BP at 36 weeks of gestation and obstetrical outcomes were collected from maternal charts.

Results: Related to resting DBP at 16 weeks (r = −0.28, P = 0.028), total energy expenditure spend at any physical activity in early pregnancy was also associated with resting SBP at 36 weeks (r = −0.27, P = 0.038). On the contrary, although related to VO2peak (r = −0.57, P < 0.0001) and energy expenditure spent at sports and exercise (r = −0.29, P = 0.024), the relative SBP response to exercise at 16 weeks was not associated with resting BP at 36 weeks. Strongly associated with resting BP at 16 weeks and also with total energy expenditure, submaximal BP response to exercise at 16 weeks was related to resting SBP and DBP at 36 weeks (r = 0.41, P = 0.001 and r = 0.26, P = 0.051, respectively).

Conclusion: In normotensive women, physical activity performed in early pregnancy appears to slightly modulate resting BP in early and late pregnancy. However, further investigations are needed to determine which physical activity-related parameter in response to exercise best predicts BP variations during pregnancy.

aDepartment of Pediatrics, Quebec's University Hospital Centre

bResearch Centre of Quebec's University Institute of Cardiology and Respiratory Medicine

cDepartment of Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University

dDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Quebec's University Hospital Centre

eDepartment of Kinesiology, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, Quebec City, PQ, Canada

Correspondence to Dr Isabelle Marc, Department of Pediatrics, Quebec's University Hospital Centre, 2705 Laurier Boulevard, Quebec City, PQ, G1V 4G2, Canada. Tel: +1 418 525 4444 #46350; fax: +1 418 654 2753; e-mail:

Abbreviations: BP, blood pressure; CRF, cardiorespiratory fitness; GDM, gestational diabetes mellitus; HDP, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy; ICCs, intraclass correlation coefficients; mmHg, millimetres of mercury; OGTT, oral glucose tolerance test; PPAQ, pregnancy physical activity questionnaire; RPE, rate of perceived exertion; VCO2, carbon dioxide output; VO2, oxygen uptake

Received 5 November, 2013

Revised 24 February, 2014

Accepted 24 February, 2014

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins