The UNMASK blood pressure study

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Unmasking unknown risks

High blood pressure (medically known as hypertension) is the number one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

More than a third of the adult Australian population suffer from the condition and as a result, doctors and researchers are always looking for better ways to detect and manage high blood pressure.

One recent study has found that the blood pressure response to a clinical exercise test may be a good indicator of whether a person is at unknown risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.

Funded by the Heart Foundation, the research found that irrespective of blood pressure levels at rest, an abnormal blood pressure response to a clinical exercise stress test indicated the presence of hypertension.

“An abnormal blood pressure response, even to low-level intensity exercise, may improve our ability to identify individuals who have an increased risk of high blood pressure” researcher Dr Martin Schultz says.

“The abnormal blood pressure response is a ‘red flag’ to doctors that follow-up care and interventions may be needed to reduce cardiovascular risk.”

The results of this work have recently been published and Dr Schultz and his team have several other ongoing research studies examining the clinical importance of measuring blood pressure during exercise which are also funded by the Heart Foundation.

The research was presented at the Exercise and Sports Science Australia conference in Melbourne in 2016 and at the International Society of Hypertension Congress in Athens in 2014.

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