Effects of supervised exercise and dietary nitrate in older adults with controlled hypertension and/or heart failure with preserved ejection fraction

Nitric Oxide. 2017 Sep 30;69:78-90. doi: 10.1016/j.niox.2017.05.005. Epub 2017 May 23.


Aerobic exercise training is an effective therapy to improve peak aerobic power (peak VO2) in individuals with hypertension (HTN, AHA/ACC class A) and heart failure patients with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). High nitrate containing beetroot juice (BRJ) also improves sub-maximal endurance and decreases blood pressure in both HTN and HFpEF. We hypothesized that combining an aerobic exercise and dietary nitrate intervention would result in additive or even synergistic positive effects on exercise tolerance and blood pressure in HTN or HFpEF. We report results from two pilot studies examining the effects of supervised aerobic exercise combined with dietary nitrate in patients with controlled HTN (n = 26, average age 65 ± 5 years) and in patients with HFpEF (n = 20, average age 69 ± 7 years). All patients underwent an aerobic exercise training regimen; half were randomly assigned to consume a high nitrate-containing beet juice beverage (BRJ containing 6.1 mmol nitrate for the HFpEF study consumed three times a week and 8 mmol nitrate for the HTN study consumed daily) while the other half consumed a beet juice beverage with the nitrate removed (placebo). The main result was that there was no added benefit observed for any outcomes when comparing BRJ to placebo in either HTN or HFpEF patients undergoing exercise training (p ≥ 0.14). There were within-group benefits. In the pilot study in patients with HFpEF, aerobic endurance (primary outcome), defined as the exercise time to volitional exhaustion during submaximal cycling at 75% of maximal power output, improved during exercise training within each group from baseline to end of study, 369 ± 149 s vs 520 ± 257 s (p = 0.04) for the placebo group and 384 ± 129 s vs 483 ± 258 s for the BRJ group (p = 0.15). Resting systolic blood pressure in patients with HFpEF also improved during exercise training in both groups, 136 ± 16 mm Hg vs 122 ± 3 mm Hg for the placebo group (p < 0.05) and 132 ± 12 mm Hg vs 119 ± 9 mm Hg for the BRJ group (p < 0.05). In the HTN pilot study, during a treadmill graded exercise test, peak oxygen consumption (primary outcome) did not change significantly, but time to exhaustion (also a primary outcome) improved in both groups, 504 ± 32 s vs 601 ± 38 s (p < 0.05) for the placebo group and 690 ± 38 s vs 772 ± 95 s for the BRJ group (p < 0.05) which was associated with a reduction in supine resting systolic blood pressure in BRJ group. Arterial compliance also improved during aerobic exercise training in both the HFpEF and the HTN patients for both BRJ and placebo groups. Future work is needed to determine if larger nitrate doses would provide an added benefit to supervised aerobic exercise in HTN and HFpEF patients.

Keywords: Exercise; Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction; Hypertension; Nitrate; Nitric Oxide; Nitrite.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Beta vulgaris
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Fruit and Vegetable Juices
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitrates / administration & dosage*
  • Nitrates / blood
  • Nitrites / blood
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Physical Endurance / drug effects
  • Stroke Volume / drug effects


  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites
  • Oxygen