Exercise Helps Prevent High BP Even in Areas of High Air Pollution

Regular physical activity (PA) still provides benefit against hypertension even in areas of high air pollution, according to a study published online July 20 in Circulation.

Cui Guo, Ph.D., from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and colleagues examined data from 140,072 adults (mean age, 41.7 years; 48.8 percent male) without hypertension at baseline who underwent routine medical examinations between 2001 and 2016. A satellite data-based spatiotemporal model was used to estimate fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure.

The researchers found that the mean values for systolic and diastolic blood pressure were 112.5 and 68.7 mm Hg, respectively. More than one-third of participants (34.2 percent) reported being inactive, while 29.8 percent reported moderate PA and 36.0 percent reported high PA. The mean level of PM2.5 was 26.1 µg/m³. When adjusting for factors (including a mutual adjustment for PA or PM2.5), a higher PA level was associated with a lower risk for hypertension (hazard ratio [HR] for moderate PA, 0.93 [95 percent confidence interval (CI), 0.89 to 0.97]; HR for high PA, 0.92 [95 percent CI, 0.88 to 0.96]) versus those who were inactive. A higher level of PM2.5 was associated with a higher risk for hypertension (HR for moderate PM2.5, 1.37 [95 percent CI, 1.32 to 1.43]; HR for high PM2.5, 1.92 [95 percent CI, 1.81 to 2.04]) versus the low-PM2.5 group. There was no significant interaction noted between PA and PM2.5 (HR, 1.01; 95 percent CI, 1.00 to 1.02).

“Our results indicated that PA is a suitable hypertension prevention strategy for people residing in relatively polluted regions,” the authors write.

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