Italian researchers found that people who see a spike in blood pressure when they stand up could be at an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
They learned that even a relatively small increase in standing blood pressure – 6-7 mmHg – could predict major cardiac events in the long run.
The study looked at 1,200 Italian adults between the ages of 18 and 45, with untreated stage 1 high blood pressure (defined as systolic blood pressure of 140 to 159 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure of 90 to 100 mm Hg).
Systolic blood pressure, the top number in a reading, represents the force exerted on blood vessels when the heart beats; the diastolic reading measures the pressure between beats.
None of the participants had taken blood pressure-lowering medication before the study, and all were considered low risk for a major heart event.
Each participant had their blood pressure taken in various physical positions, including lying down and standing up. Those with the highest rise in blood pressure upon standing averaged an 11.4 mm Hg increase in blood pressure.
The other participants averaged a 3.8 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure when they stood, a far more common occurrence.
Over a 17-year follow-up period, study participants had 105 major heart-related events. The most common were heart attack, heart-related chest pain, and stroke. The odds for people in the top 10-percent were nearly double to experience one of these events,
Staying seated or lying down, of course, is not an option. But these findings do suggest that a boost in blood pressure upon standing my help predict a future cardiac event. Even if you only have slightly high blood pressure, do your best to keep it in a normal range.
Normal blood pressure is in the 120/80 mm Hg range and could be achieved through weight loss, more activity, and a healthful diet featuring plenty of fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods.