Exercise could be as effective as many antihypertensives in the management of hypertension, suggests new research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
In what is thought to be the first study of its kind, researchers compared the effect of exercise regimens and antihypertensive medications on systolic blood pressure (SBP) through analyses of 391 randomised controlled trials. A total of 194 of the trials evaluated the effect of antihypertensive medications on SBP while 197 evaluated the impact of endurance, dynamic resistance, isometric resistance, and combined endurance and resistance exercise.
The study found that compared with control, all types of exercise and all classes of antihypertensive medications were effective in lowering baseline SBP. Individuals who received antihypertensive medications tended to achieve greater reductions in SBP than those who adopted structured exercise regimens (mean difference -3.96 mmHg, 95% credible intervals [CrI] -5.02 to -2.91). However, when the analysis was limited to trials in populations with high SBP, there were no detectable differences in the SBP-lowering effects of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin-2 receptor blockers, ß-blocker and diuretic medications when compared with endurance or dynamic resistance exercise.
The authors said generalisability of the findings to real-world clinical settings should be further evaluated.