You put on your leggings, put on your sneakers, and strap on your smartwatch. All ready to go for a run (or walk). When you finish, you look at the screen of your device, which marks your distance, steps and blood pressure (because it is the latest generation). The last data seems a whimsical parameter, almost useless, after all you don’t have arterial hypertension… But, according to one investigation from Boston University (USA), you may be interested in looking at him; a considerable rise in tension during activity and that takes a long time to go down when ending it could be an indicator of this pathology long before having a diagnosis, says the work published in the journal Journal of the American Heart Association.
To reach this conclusion, the scientists analyzed the health of the participants of the Framingham study, which consists of a follow-up of thousands of people of successive generations from the towns of Framingham and Newton, in Massachusetts (USA). The initiative has been carried out since 1971. The sample on which the results are based was 2,000 people with no prior pathologies who underwent the bruce protocol, a physical test that is performed on a treadmill. The participants did not get to sweat the shirt: they only completed two stages and without changing the inclination of the belt. “The first was done at 1.7 kilometers per hour and the second at 2.5. That is, who had these rises [de tensión] they were walking and not running, ”explains Amelia Carro, coordinator of the Sports Cardiology Working Group of the Spanish Society of Cardiology, who did not participate in the study.
A normal blood pressure it is when the systolic (the maximum) figures are around 120 and 129 millimeters of mercury (mmHg), and the diastolic (the minimum), between 80 and 84 mmHg. “An increase in pressure during exercise is normal,” says Borja Ibáñez, director of Clinical Research at the National Center for Cardiological Research (CNIC). The problem comes when it comes to a considerable rise.
The expected increase during physical activity, according to the study data, is between 30 and 50 mmHg at discharge. Exceeding this figure may be a sign that invites caution. “When it is greater than these parameters it is something to take into account,” says Ibáñez. That is, in addition to the figure at the end of the exercise, it is good to know the tension at the time of starting it, in order to calculate the difference. And what about the time it takes to go down? In this case, the mean of the research results was around 3 and 4 minutes. “When five minutes have passed, it should be practically at the pre-exercise values,” explains Ibáñez. If it is still high, it would be a reason to consult a specialist.
Taking blood pressure is a control routine for many people who have high blood pressure (in the world there are more than 1,100 million people with hypertension, according to data of the World Health Organization), and the recommendation of doctors for healthy people is that it be done at least once a year from the age of 40. It is not necessary to obsess, but “it is from this age when we must be really attentive ”, according to Car. Above all because more than 4 million people in Spain have high blood pressure and do not know it. If there is a family history of hypertension, check-ups start earlier and should be more frequent.
Can it help to know how your blood pressure is when you exercise, either through a smartwatch or another device (which is recommended? It may be – again, no need to obsess or measure it every day if you is healthy—, since a pressure rise like the one indicated by the study, which stays around heats of 170 mmHg, it is not accompanied by physical signs. “It is when the systolic rises above 200 that you can feel a headache, nosebleeds and sometimes chest pain,” says Ibáñez. And an important note, before getting alarmed we must bear in mind that, no matter how smart a watch is, “it is not considered a validated measurement method nor is it entirely accurate,” explains Carro. The cardiologist adds that the best way to measure our blood pressure today is with a mango blood pressure monitor – you can have one or go to a pharmacy to have your blood taken there. Although “they can serve as a guide” concludes Ibáñez.