Effects of diltiazem or propranolol during exercise training of hypertensive men

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1990 Apr;22(2):171-7.


This was a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to establish whether beta blockers or calcium-channel blockers limit exercise capacity and training responses in men with mild hypertension. Circuit weight and aerobic training was used to assess the effects of drugs on cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength. Fifty-two sedentary men, ages 25-59 yr, with a diastolic blood pressure of 90-105 mm Hg off drugs, without significant ST depression during maximal stress testing, received diltiazem, propranolol, or placebo. Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and exercise duration during treadmill testing, as well as one-repetition maximal strength, were assessed on eight weight machines after a single-blind placebo baseline, after 2 wk of drug run-in, and after 10 wk of exercise training. Total daily doses were 240 mg for propranolol and 360 mg for diltiazem. Propranolol decreased VO2max after drug run-in (P less than 0.05). Exercise training increased VO2max (P less than 0.05) in the diltiazem and placebo groups. After training VO2max in the propranolol group increased (P less than 0.05) from run-in but not beyond baseline levels. Thus, the reduction of VO2max consequent to propranolol therapy limited the overall benefits of training. Exercise duration did not change with run-in and increased (P less than 0.05) with training by 22%, 19%, and 10% for the diltiazem, placebo, and propranolol groups, respectively. Strength after run-in was unchanged, and exercise training increased strength (P less than 0.0001) on all weight machines in all groups. The results show an advantage of diltiazem to propranolol, particularly among physically active patients engaged in aerobic exercise who require antihypertensive therapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Diltiazem / pharmacology*
  • Diltiazem / therapeutic use
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Propranolol / pharmacology*
  • Propranolol / therapeutic use
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange / drug effects
  • Weight Lifting


  • Propranolol
  • Diltiazem
  • Oxygen