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Minerva Medica 2021 Jun 18

DOI: 10.23736/S0026-4806.21.07624-2

Copyright © 2021 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

lingua: Inglese

Regular physical activity: a major component of isolated systolic hypertension in the young

Paolo PALATINI

Department of Medicine, University of Padova, Padua, Italy


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In the last few decades there has been much debate about the clinical significance of isolated systolic hypertension in youth (ISHY). Purpose of this article is to discuss the epidemiology and pathophysiology of ISHY focusing on the relationship between ISHY and aerobic exercise. There is evidence to suggest that regular physical activity produces favourable long-standing cardiovascular effects in young individuals including the improvement of arterial elasticity as measured from carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity and from small artery compliance. A recent ESH document recognises the heterogeneity of ISHY which may be associated with multiple factors that can interact to determine this BP phenotype. Several studies have shown that long-term training in aerobic sports is one main factor contributing to ISHY. In the athlete, the increased stroke volume secondary to low heart rate and the high arterial elasticity cause an increase in peripheral pulse pressure. This explains why ISHY is more common in physically trained than in sedentary individuals and is considered by some authors as a spurious hypertension. Recent results from the HARVEST study confirm the existence of an association between ISHY and endurance training. In that study the prevalence of ISHY was directly related to physical activity habits being 8.8% in the sedentary subjects and 25.7% in the athletes. Eligibility to competitive athletics of athletes with ISHY should be based on the results of 24-hour ambulatory BP monitoring and careful clinical assessment of all cardiovascular risk factors and target organ involvement in order to establish the global level of risk.


KEY WORDS: Youth; Hypertension; Exercise; Athletes; Heart rate; Systolic hypertension; Arterial elasticity

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