High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/9/2011 9:48AM Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Is it common for runners to have high blood pressure? I run in the 26's for 8k cross, 4:20 mile, 1:55 800, weigh 145, 22 years old and my blood pressure is 145/85. I can't even pass my physical! I feel fine. What could happen to me because of this?
mines high
RE: High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/9/2011 10:09AM - in reply to Duhhhh! Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I'm a 52yo runner and I've had high bp my whole life. running seems to help, but is not the whole story. For me, I believe it has a genetic component as my mother is on high bp meds.

On a recent visit to the dr. they did a test that indicated one of my heart chambers was enlarged - they said that it was because it was working too hard.

I am watching my diet (salt especially). I think the dr. would like to put me on meds, which I'm resisting right now.

Possible risks are heart attack or stroke, but probably not until you are older.
RE: High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/9/2011 12:10PM - in reply to Duhhhh! Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Your numbers are high, especially for the first number.

Ideal BP is something like 110/70 to 120/80 - Blood pressure normally gets higher with age. Doctors start to get worried if you are consistently over 150 over 90 or figures close to that.

The problem is that if you are on meds, it is usually difficult to get off the meds later.

I recall a French runner in Cannes (Fabien Caron) who was around 19 years old and suffered from high bp - around the same numbers you show. Not sure what happened to him, but he posted good times.

What you need to do is to rule out 'white coat syndrome' which is when blood pressure soars in the company of medical personnel.

You should ask your doctor for a blood pressure monitor that you can wear at all times for 24 hours or more, which will then give the results at different times, without the presence of medical personnel.

If you are prone to 'white coat syndrome' you might simply be getting a false high reading, or your numbers might be 10 to 15 digits higher than they would be in other circumstances.

Ghost in Saudi, www.kfupm.edu.sa, apply today
RE: High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/9/2011 12:46PM - in reply to Duhhhh! Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Unfortunately running is not a silver bullet for high blood pressure. I am 58 and run 50 to 60 mpw. Without meds, systolic reading gets up to 160. As someone else mentioned, it is probably genetic.

If you do have to go on medication, request a beta blocker. The diuretics are bad news for runners.
Randy Oldman
RE: High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/9/2011 12:50PM - in reply to cl Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Mine is about 105-110/60-70.

It was higher before I started running.
RE: High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/9/2011 5:02PM - in reply to Duhhhh! Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Was it a single reading? You need to check it on a regular basis to determine if you do have high blood pressure. One high reading is not enough. The "white coat syndrome" is also a factor. My readings are always high at the doctor's office so I bought my own monitor to check on this and when I take it at home, it is fine. High blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart problems, not fun things. In other words, it can kill you if left untreated long enough. Granted problems are more likely to arise at later ages, but they can hit the young to. Running can help keep it down a bit, as well as diet changes (reduce salt, alcohol intake, caffeine). However if it is genetic there may not be much you can do but go on meds. Check your pressure regularly and if it is mainly high, work with your doctor on options.
RE: High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/9/2011 6:02PM - in reply to sdmiler1 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Another 50 year old runner. I had been told by doctors since I was in my teens that "that blood pressue's a little high - you need to watch that" until in my 40's I went on a BP medication. At the time my BP was typically 150/95 or so and I didn't want to damage anything internally. At the time I ran about 40mpw and weighed about 175lbs at 5'9". I started to get serious about my training/racing in my late 40's (last chance and all) and now weigh about 150lbs and run ~70mpw consistently for about 4 years. I eat WAY WAY more healthy (no comparison) than I used to and came off BP meds two years ago. Typical BP is now about 120/80. I never thought I'd see 150lbs again or BP of 120/80 but there it is. I measure my BP every day and have plots of it over the years.
Don't know what it means except that, in my case, extreme changes in dieting/weight/excercise 'fixed' a problem that was life-long.
Post Blue
RE: High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/9/2011 7:07PM - in reply to Duhhhh! Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I'm another young runner with similar PRs in the shorter distances. I usually take my bp on the machine at Walmart and have consistently gotten high readings that really had me worried for a while. Eventually I went to my dad who also has high blood pressure and he let me use the portable machine that his doctor advised he get. On that machine my bp is 10-15 points lower. Make sure, before you begin worrying about any of this, that you really do have high blood pressure. Go to a competent doctor for a reading, if you haven't yet.
RE: High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/9/2011 7:46PM - in reply to cl Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Actually, beta blockers are bad for runners because they mess with your heart rate. I also think they are banned by NCAA and a few other governing bodies. ACE inhibitors have a pretty good profile for athletes. I don't remember much about the calcium channel blockers, but they may be good for athletes, too. You can get good information about classes of meds just by googling.

I am 34 years old and very fit. I've had several episodes of high blood pressure--a few months at 140-150/95-100. My doctor was monitoring because I was a borderline case. My blood pressure has since returned to normal. I monitor at home, so it turns out that my high blood pressure was not just white coat hypertension. Mine must be genetic because I have a low sodium diet and weigh less than 110 lbs (I'm a woman).

Anyway, good luck to you. I empathize; it sucks to work hard and still end up with things like high blood pressure. It's treatable, though.
Not to be that guy
RE: High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/9/2011 7:55PM - in reply to mh Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I figure this is a good place to bring this up.

I recently went to see the doctor when I was sick. They measured my blood pressure - 118/74. The last time I was there it was 114/72. The doctor said that they wanted to monitor it and maybe consider medication as I was pretty close to having high blood pressure... Freaked me out a bit. After looking things up, I think the doctor is crazy.
RE: High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/9/2011 7:58PM - in reply to Duhhhh! Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I meant to reply to your original question. What can happen to you? Your blood pressure is borderline high, so the primary concern is long term damage to your blood vessels. The turbulence of high blood pressure can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke down the line. I don't think you're in immediate danger of a cardiovascular accident.

However, you should monitor your bp outside of the office to make sure it's not white coat hypertension. Meds are the way to go if your diet is good and your blood pressure remains high. Your blood pressure may not be quite high enough to try meds yet. Obviously, a doctor will help you with this.

Also, try not to stress about this too much. Think of it as a manageable issue like Type I diabetes. Though many people get high blood pressure in middle age from poor diet and lack of exercise, some people are just genetically predisposed, regardless of lifestyle. It might be worse if you weren't a runner. In other words, it's not a great thing, but having high blood pressure doesn't mean you're in terrible health. You just have to control it. If your diet is high in salt, though, you could try modifying it. Otherwise, you'll have to deal with having a treatable disease.
Rex Femoris
RE: High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/9/2011 9:09PM - in reply to Duhhhh! Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I used to have high BP. That was before I started distance training. However, I don't think it was the running that lowered it. Losing 55 lbs helped, but the main thing that worked for me was getting to to bed earlier.
RE: High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/9/2011 9:23PM - in reply to Duhhhh! Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
145/85 probably needs to be treated... I am around 140/90 and I went on Cozaar (ARB). I've had good results while on the Cozaar.
Sir Lance-alot
RE: High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/9/2011 9:41PM - in reply to DougC Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
ALl good advice so far, especially in making sure that you actually have high BP. Once that is confirmed, before going on meds, try the following and see if it helps at all:

* Restrict sodium more
* Increase potassium (banana's, potatoes, tomatoes, OJ, etc)
* increase vegetable consumption, especially those with high nitrate contents (such as spinach and beets, make your own beet juice which could also help with running performance)
* eat more fish like salmon, or consume omega 3 fatty acids
* Eat small portions of dark chocolate, and good cocoa
* Increase dietary fiber (whole grains and veggies)
* drink green tea
* try meditation

All of these things have been shown to have beneficial effects on blood pressure. If you do them all, it might help. If not, then you can always go the medication route.
bp for me
RE: High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/9/2011 10:55PM - in reply to Duhhhh! Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I'm 27 and have similar high bp issues, but only after hard efforts.

When I was 20-21 and a Cat 1 cyclist I started monitoring it a lot after getting a part time job in a grocery store with a bp reader. I noticed that for up to 36 hours after a hard workout or race my bp would be in the high 140s and 150s. After easyish days it's be in the 130s and after a recovery day/down week it'd be back in the 120s. Another 29 year old Cat 1 friend of mine also had consistent bp in the 140s.

I've noticed in running I have a similar thing. I did a hard track workout the day before a physical (I forgot) and my bp kept reading 145+. Finally the nurse just did it by hand and 'penciled' in a passing 130.

My second number is always in the 60s-70s, though, if that's of any worth. In my opinion, it's just a bit silly to expect the entire population to fall within specific physiological guide lines. I had extensive heart tests done earlier this year (turned out to be a muscular virus): echocardiogram, stress test, and some thing where they injected me with dye and put me in some MRI-like machine and I was told everything was as good as could be. I'm not worried about it.
RE: High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/12/2011 10:51AM - in reply to Duhhhh! Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Thanks for all the advice! It is actually diagnosed by a doctor, I've had 5 consecutive readings of 140/80 or higher, all on different days. The strange thing is that my systolic has always been in the 120's for as long as I can remember and as recent as May. But, since mid August it has been in the 140's. "White coat syndrome" could be a possibility, I do get excited/nervous, especially now that I know it's going to be a bad reading. Started meds this weekend, going for a check up today.
Viv Savage
RE: High Blood Pressure For Runners 9/12/2011 11:18AM - in reply to Duhhhh! Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
one way or another, the number needs to go down.

Runners/athletes can rationalize, "I'm in such good shape. How can this be?!?". Its not a stigma, or punishment for any sins.
The long term consequences of not treating it are severe. Medications now are very benign in their side effects. There really is little downside. Unless you are an elite athlete making your living from running, I would not screw around with how this will, "hurt your running". You can't run very well after you have had a stroke.

Orville mentioned a few of his friends who would meet every Sunday for a run. Some had high BP, but did not do anything about it. One day, one of these guys did not show up for the run. BOOM. He thought he was healthy too.