There is no consensus on the definition of an exaggerated increase in systolic blood pressure (SBP) during exercise. The aim was to explore a potential threshold for exercise SBP associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease in healthy men using repeated exercise testing. Two thousand fourteen healthy white male employees were recruited into the Oslo Ischemia Study during early 1970s. At follow-up 7 years later, 1392 men were still considered healthy. A bicycle exercise test at 100 W workload was performed at both visits. Cox regression analyses were performed with increasing cutoff levels of peak exercise SBP at 100 W workload (SBP100W) from 160 mm Hg to 200 mm Hg, adjusted for cardiovascular risk factors and physical fitness. Participants with SBP100W below cutoff level at both baseline and first follow-up were compared with participants with SBP100W equal to or above cutoff level at both visits. Compared with participants with SBP100W below all cutoff levels between 165 and 195 mm Hg, coronary heart disease risk was increased among participants with SBP100W equal to or above cutoff at all levels. There was no evidence of a distinct threshold level for coronary heart disease risk, and the relation between SBP100W and coronary heart disease appears linear. When investigating exercise SBP at moderate workload measured at 2 exercise tests in healthy middle-aged white men, there is increasing risk of coronary heart disease with increasing exercise SBP independent of SBP at rest. The association is linear from the low range of exercise SBP, and there is no sign of a distinct threshold level for increased coronary disease risk.
Keywords: blood pressure; cardiovascular disease; coronary heart disease; exercise testing; risk factor.