Blood pressure variability and central SBP are independent markers of cardiovascular risk. Data on lifestyle-interventions to reduce these parameters are sparse. The present work reports the differential effects of aerobic vs. isometric handgrip exercise on blood pressure variability and central SBP in a prospective randomized trial.
Seventy-five hypertensive patients were randomized to one of the following 12-week programs: isometric handgrip training five times weekly; ‘Sham-handgrip training’ five times weekly; aerobic exercise training (30 min three to five times/week). Blood pressure variability was assessed by the coefficient of variation in 24-h ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM). Central SBP was measured noninvasively by the SphygmoCor device (AtCor Medical, Australia).
The aerobic exercise program significantly decreased systolic daytime variability (12.1 ± 2.5 vs. 10.3 ± 2.8, P = 0.04), whereas diastolic daytime blood pressure variability was not significantly altered (P = 0.14). Night-time variability was not significantly affected (P > 0.05). Central SBP was reduced from 145±15 to 134 ± 19 mmHg (P = 0.01). Isometric handgrip and sham-handgrip exercise did not significantly affect blood pressure variability (P > 0.05 each). Isometric exercise tended to reduce central SBP (142 ± 19 to 136 ± 17 mmHg, P = 0.06). ANCOVA revealed significant intergroup differences for the change of daytime SBP and DBP variability (P = 0.048 and 0.047, respectively).
Aerobic exercise reduces blood pressure variability and central SBP. Isometric handgrip exercise does not reduce blood pressure variability but tends to lower central SBP in this hypertensive population.