Features August 2012 Issue

Fitness May Help Overcome Effects of Family History of Hypertension

New study further underscores the heart-healthy benefits of regular exercise.

A family history of high blood pressure and/or heart disease automatically raises your risk of developing the same problems. Studies have shown that parental history of high blood pressure accounts for anywhere from 35 percent to 65 percent of the variability in blood pressure in their offspring. Factors that affect those percentages include which parent had high blood pressure and at what age the hypertension developed. But a new study finds that regular exercise and improved fitness can help substantially overcome those odds and lower your risks. In the study of more than 6,000 people those who had at least one parent with high blood pressure but had high levels of age-predicted cardiorespiratory fitness had a 34-percent lower risk of developing hypertension compared with study participants with a family history of hypertension and who were at the lowest fitness level.

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