"Exercise hypertension" is an abnormally high spike in blood pressure experienced by generally healthy people during a workout. It is a known risk factor for permanent and serious high blood pressure at rest.
Several mechanisms have been proposed for exercise hypertension.
Johns Hopkins scientists believe that the problem is caused by the failure of cells that line the blood vessels (endothelial cells) to allow the arteries to expand to accommodate increased blood flow during exertion. Normally during exercise, blood pressure increases to push the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. However, in some individuals, the response to exercise is exaggerated. Instead of reaching a systolic (upper number) blood pressure of around 200 mm Hg at maximal exercise, they spike at 250 mm Hg or higher.
Exercise hypertension may also be related to inflammation, high cholesterol levels, and insulin resistance.
Elevated blood pressure readings during exercise is diagnostic.
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