Aims: Exercise is recommended as prevention, management, and control of all stages of hypertension. There are still controversies about the optimal training dose, frequency, and intensity. We aimed to study the effect of aerobic interval training on blood pressure and myocardial function in hypertensive patients.
Methods and results: A total of 88 patients (52.0 ± 7.8 years, 39 women) with essential hypertension were randomized to aerobic interval training (AIT) (>90% of maximal heart rate, correlates to 85-90% of VO(2max)), isocaloric moderate intensity continuous training (MIT) (~70% of maximal heart rate, 60% of VO(2max)), or a control group. Exercise was performed on a treadmill, three times per week for 12 weeks. Ambulatory 24-hour blood pressure (ABP) was the primary endpoint. Secondary endpoints included maximal oxygen uptake (VO(2max)), mean heart rate/24 hour, flow mediated dilatation (FMD), total peripheral resistance (TPR), and myocardial systolic and diastolic function by echocardiography. Systolic ABP was reduced by 12 mmHg (p < 0.001) in AIT and 4.5 mmHg (p = 0.05) in MIT. Diastolic ABP was reduced by 8 mmHg (p < 0.001) in AIT and 3.5 mmHg (p = 0.02) in MIT. VO(2max) improved by 15% (p < 0.001) in AIT and 5% (p < 0.01) in MIT. Systolic myocardial function improved in both exercise groups, diastolic function in the AIT group only. TPR reduction and increased FMD were only observed in the AIT group.
Conclusions: This study indicates that the blood pressure reducing effect of exercise in essential hypertension is intensity dependent. Aerobic interval training is an effective method to lower blood pressure and improve other cardiovascular risk factors.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00218972.