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  1. #1
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Has anyone successfully lowered their blood pressure by cycling?

    I'm not sure where to post this. I was wondering if there are any folks here who were able to lower their blood pressure by cycling regularly? I'm taking meds to keep my blood pressure down but I'd love to get off of them and I was wondering if anyone was in similar situation and succeeded? My doctor says it's possible but he's hesitant to get me off of the meds. He says I'd need to lose another 10-20lbs. I'm already down from 230lbs to 200lbs but my ideal weight would be around 180lbs.

    Anyone has a story to share?

    Adam

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    I've never had an issue with BP, but I have dropped about 15 points on each reading since I started commuting. Did that with the resting pulse, too, only that was closer to a 10-point drop. Of course, in that same amount of time, I successfully quit smoking, too. Been a month short of 8 years since I last lit up, and the smell is STILL revolting.

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    Faster than yesterday
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    No story here, though my RHR and breathing rate have noticeably fallen since I started cycling.

    According to the literature, endurance exercise can, on average, reduce systolic bp by only 7 and DBP by 5 mm hg (in those with known hypertension). You may see further gains from significant weight loss. So, it depends on how bad your hypertension is and whether you will honestly be able to lose much more weight.

    Beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors will inhibit your athletic performance, which would decrease my desire to exercise at all. If I were only mildly hypertensive, my personal, informed choice (I am just some guy on the web) would be to forgo the drugs for the short term and make significant efforts to eat better, and get more exercise. I would then have myself reevaluated, at maybe 6 months (BP is so difficult to measure, you know). If my protocol didn't work, then the drugs may be in order.

    It is possible that this situation applies to you (you haven't shared your BP) and your doc is rx-happy. It is also possible that your doc has considered all of this, but your BP is too high to be likely to be lowered into an acceptable range by lifestyle modifications alone.
    Last edited by tadawdy; 12-08-09 at 02:04 PM.

  4. #4
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    My pressure with drugs, early this year, was 110-120s over 70s without drugs and 140s over 90s without when not riding every day and not watching the diet, I stopped the meds once for two weeks to check. The drugs cause fatigue and dry mouth that makes exercise harder at times. My doctor didn't like my little test and discouraged any further experimentation. But he may just be cautious. Now, since I've been riding daily for almost a year my pressure is even lower 110/65, etc. So I've been thinking again.

    Adam

  5. #5
    Senior Member Nermal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    My pressure with drugs, early this year, was 110-120s over 70s without drugs and 140s over 90s without when not riding every day and not watching the diet, I stopped the meds once for two weeks to check. The drugs cause fatigue and dry mouth that makes exercise harder at times. My doctor didn't like my little test and discouraged any further experimentation. But he may just be cautious. Now, since I've been riding daily for almost a year my pressure is even lower 110/65, etc. So I've been thinking again.

    Adam
    Your readings without drugs and with riding make me wonder why you are on meds in the first place.

    My bp has improved dramatically, but there are a couple of caveats in order. I was diagnosed with diabetes about 5 years ago, and started watching the diet and walking twice daily. After a year, I switched to riding. After a total of three years walking, riding, and paying closer attention to diet, my readings dropped from mid 140/mid 80 to mid 120/mid 70s. This was while on hyzaar 100/25. On doctor's advice, I started splitting the pills and taking 1/2 dose per day. It's working fine.

    I'm another "just a guy", but again, I doubt you have any reason for medication. If this upsets your doctor, that might be the thing you consider changing. Just my opinion.
    Last edited by Nermal; 12-08-09 at 03:54 PM. Reason: Clarification
    Some people are like a Slinky ... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

  6. #6
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nermal View Post
    Your readings without drugs and with riding make me wonder why you are on meds in the first place...n.
    Yup, me too. I'm also on Hayzaar 100/25 and Amlodipine (Norvasc) 10mg and both are known for side effects: fatigue and dizziness. Also Hayzaar makes you sensitive to heat and sun and causes dry mouth, annoying. Doctors are quick to prescribe meds for hypertension to avoid any potential risks but I wonder if it's always necessary. I've been watching my diet anyway. I think I'll have another talk with my doc and try lowering the doses at first.

    Thanks for sharing I really appreciate this.

    Adam

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    I check mine on a machine i know is checked for accuracy frequently at the drugstore.It gives a range of levels depending on age.I know for my age that 110/60 is good.Im a 63 year old.It gets higher in winter cause i dont ride.cause it gets as low as -25 F here frequently and i have a hard time breathing in that.I have emphysema.I think some Doc's get a little crazy with doleing out drugs.Just saying.
    So yes it definately drops with exercise like riding.

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    Senior Member wrafl's Avatar
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    Just met with my Doc today and he was so impressed that all the blood work were normal inculding cholesterol count. I do take BP pills too. BP was an astounding 118/80 today. So yes riding helps maintain a healthy lifestyle. I told the doc that I walk and ride a bike now and then but not telling him I go for rides of 40-50 miles each during the warmer months. So he told me to keep up the healthy lifestyle. The bad part of my visit with him, I'm due for another colonoscopy in February. Yikes.
    Last edited by wrafl; 12-08-09 at 07:28 PM.

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    My Blood pressure shows a marked drop after a single bike ride and takes a few days to come back up to a borderline level. If I ride 3 times a week then it will stay significantly lower. Rides of 20- 40 miles are enough to make a difference . I have a labile pressure which can showed marked variations whilst even whilst sitting in a doctors office. It's important to take your own readings at home.

  10. #10
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleBiker View Post
    My Blood pressure shows a marked drop after a single bike ride and takes a few days to come back up to a borderline level. If I ride 3 times a week then it will stay significantly lower. Rides of 20- 40 miles are enough to make a difference . I have a labile pressure which can showed marked variations whilst even whilst sitting in a doctors office. It's important to take your own readings at home.
    That would explain why I feel lousy if I don't ride for a few days.

    Quote Originally Posted by ddez View Post
    .It gets higher in winter cause i dont ride.cause it gets as low as -25 F here frequently and i have a hard time breathing in that.
    -25F??? I probably wouldn't ride either!

    Quote Originally Posted by wrafl View Post
    Just met with my Doc today and he was so impressed that all the blood work were normal inculding cholesterol count. I do take BP pills too. BP was an astounding 118/80 today. So yes riding helps maintain a healthy lifestyle. I told the doc that I walk and ride a bike now and then but not telling him I go for rides of 40-50 miles each during the warmer months. So he told me to keep up the healthy lifestyle. The bad part of my visit with him, I'm due for another colonoscopy in February. Yikes.
    I have no problem with cholesterol. I don't like fat foods by nature and I eat chicken and fish mostly and lots of veggies so I managed to avoid this problem so far.

    Thanks for sharing. Those are definitely encouraging comments. Yes, I monitor my BP at home too and it's been really good recently, below 120 most of the time.

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    the best way to lower ones blood pressure.........a divorce.

    j/k

  12. #12
    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arej00dazed View Post
    the best way to lower ones blood pressure.........a divorce.

    j/k

    good one



    I was inspired to take up cycling when I was diagnosed with HBP. My doctor gave me a prescription, and said "watch your salt"(no need to mention to me that I was 100+ pounds overweight!). I did not fill the prescription, but I did begin to ride, walk, and eat right. My readings went from borderline high to the "athletes and children" range. Now I'm back to a low normal range, which is o.k., I guess.



    Cycyling had a lot to do with it, but I imagine losing all the excess weight was a big factor. If you could lower it that way, instead of taking meds, it has to be a healthier solution. American medicine seems to favor medicating the symptoms without even trying to cure the reason(s) behind them. If you go that way, what's next? Stronger meds, heart disease, diabetes...?
    Campione Del Mondo Immaginario

  13. #13
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Lowered: BP, A1C, cholesterol, weight
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    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  14. #14
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Yeah. I have to work on losing at least another 10lbs.

    Adam

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    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    I'd get a second opinion.

    I take amplodine. In the summer my BP usually drops 10-15% when I'm riding a lot.
    I also have to exercise regularly to keep it under control. Right now I am on a 4 day a week
    schedule (roughly). Roughly because there are days where I shovel snow. Usually I just move the schedule
    back a day or two, but I did the trainer this morning because I felt antsy. (and in about 5 minutes i gotta go shovel)

    Trainer/gym(push)rower/gym(pull)

    I prob ought to reverse the pairing, since the rower involves pulling.
    I really like the rower, it's a Concept 2 I bought used.
    I say used, but like a lot exercise gear, it hadn't been used much at all. I crank up an old movie
    or tv show and go at it for an hour. Now that it's snowing I think I need to reverse it and take a day off after cycling
    as well as after the gym days.

    Anyway, back to you, I went through 3 or 4 drugs before winding up on amplodine.
    I got lots of problems from the other ones. My experience with 5mg of Amplodine was no side effects hardly at all.

    Keep changing things around, you'll get it where you want it.
    Last edited by late; 12-09-09 at 09:42 AM.
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  16. #16
    Member The Hammer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    I'm not sure where to post this. I was wondering if there are any folks here who were able to lower their blood pressure by cycling regularly? I'm taking meds to keep my blood pressure down but I'd love to get off of them and I was wondering if anyone was in similar situation and succeeded? My doctor says it's possible but he's hesitant to get me off of the meds. He says I'd need to lose another 10-20lbs. I'm already down from 230lbs to 200lbs but my ideal weight would be around 180lbs.

    Anyone has a story to share?

    Adam
    I just got diagnosed with HBP earlier this year. I explained to my doc that I was frusrated by this since I bike 6 to 8K miles a year. He told me that I was genetically predisposed to have HBP since heart disease was rampant in my family tree. He said that the reason I was able to delay the issue ( I started meds 16 years older than my father did) was because of the cycling (I did three triathlons in 2007 as well), but that I need to accept the fat that I would prolly be on meds the rest of my life. I should mention that I too am overweight - by about forty pounds. I am on Benicar 40 and Norvasc

  17. #17
    Mrs. DataJunkie Luddite's Avatar
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    I never had "high" bp when I was fat (but I was relatively young) but after dropping 40ish lbs, my blood pressure was amazingly low, I actually would get light headed standing up suddenly sometimes lol. I think like 100/60 ish range.

  18. #18
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    I've gone through some drugs too before we settled on Hayzaar and Amlodipine. Side effects vary by people hugely and since I'm taking two I am not 100% sure which one causes them. I may also be predisposed, my dad had HBP but no heart disease in the family.

    I also experience lightheaded-ness often when getting up and that started this year after I lost some weight and started riding a lot more When that happens my BP is like 110/65. So something tells me I may be able to get off the drugs, at least one of them if I try harder to lose some weight.

    Women are less likely to suffer from "unexplained" or genetic Hypertension than men, I think, it's usually the extra pounds or stress and it's relatively easier for women to get their BP under control.

    Adam

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    I'm not really old enough to worry with such things yet, but my father has seen marked improvements in the 8 years since he's back to cycling. His BP is fine, and his resting heart rate is in the 40's, minimum 38.
    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    I learned this the hard way. They say that experience is the best teacher, but I would have been preferred to just read about it on the internet.

  20. #20
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nahh View Post
    I'm not really old enough to worry with such things yet.

    Let's hope you will never have to! Not everybody does.

    Adam

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    Quote Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
    good one
    I only said that cause thats the only solution to lower my blood pressure.........

  22. #22
    Faster than yesterday
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    My pressure with drugs, early this year, was 110-120s over 70s without drugs and 140s over 90s without when not riding every day and not watching the diet, I stopped the meds once for two weeks to check. The drugs cause fatigue and dry mouth that makes exercise harder at times. My doctor didn't like my little test and discouraged any further experimentation. But he may just be cautious. Now, since I've been riding daily for almost a year my pressure is even lower 110/65, etc. So I've been thinking again.

    Adam
    Your BP (140/90) is slightly high, and is cause for concern. 140/90 is the borderline for prehypertension. One set of data (JNC 7 report) says that for every increment of 20/10 over 115/75, the risk of CVD doubles (inflated DBP is particularly indicative of future problems).

    The fact that you can lower it with lifestyle mods is a good sign. The problem is actually sticking to it; I'm sure you don't have to be told that long-term compliance is rare. Docs see a lot of people who could do themselves some good, but end up needing the drugs because they are unable or unwilling to do the work to get there. Maybe a specialist could make more specific recommendations for you? A GP is usually not the person to get individualized advice from, as I see it. They know what will and won't work for most people, but if you are able and willing to make lifestyle changes you aren't most people. They are also relatively slow to adapt to new ideas. They are part of the medical institution, after all, and paradigms are slow to change.

    There has been some speculation recently about whether putting basically everyone on statins (for cholesterol) would be beneficial. The idea is that by universally lowering lipids, you'd see less CVD in the population. As someone who cringes at such a one-size-fits-all approach (nevermind the questions about the actual efficacy of statins) I see this as indicative of the current paradigm in medicine. It's partially an attitude that treatment by drugs is preferential to asking borderline patients to change their lifestyles. It's lazy on both sides.

    As you've seen, these drugs almost always have negative consequences, so the question is whether putting someone like you on them actually will increase their quality of life. That may be up to you: a healthy lifestyle may keep your BP low, and it would also give you benefits everywhere else (eg cancer risk, bone and brain health). The drugs will only help control your BP, which affects fewer (though obviously critical) aspects of health and also have negative consequences.

    Put succinctly: a healthy lifestyle decreases your odds of death from all causes and increases quality of life, while the drugs will only decrease the risk of those diseases linked to BP. I'd go with the more influential intervention, if I could choose. You should be fully informed (get other opinions from docs), but is ultimately your choice.

  23. #23
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Thank you for a very thoughtful reply. Yes, most people are either unwilling or unable to make lifestyle changes so meds are the easier solution. I'm both willing and able. There is nothing in my life that can prevent me from making changes to my diet and daily routines. As one other physician once told me: "when they prescribe medications they hope the benefits of these medications will overweight the side effects, but this is mainly to be decided by the patient." Since I am on the borderline the side effects have become more annoying that I'm willing to put up with.

    I think the medicine with the most annoying side effects is Hayzaar. I will try to get off of it but keep Amlodipine for now. I think my doc didn't trust me when I said I want to try harder and I've been really good, riding almost every day for nearly two years now, 18 miles round trip, avoiding junk food, salt, fatty foods, etc. so there is hope for me. I'm due for a visit in January so I'll talk to my GP and maybe I'll see a specialist too.

    I wanted to hear from other people too, how it worked for them. These replies encouraged me more. Of course, I will be careful, I know that HBP increases the chances of heart attack and stroke. I had my heart checked last year and no problems were found, my blood tests are excellent so I may have a good chance of at least getting off of one of the medications.

    Adam
    Last edited by AdamDZ; 12-10-09 at 05:52 PM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member gypz's Avatar
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    When i was a clyde back in 2003 it my bp was 130/80, with a pulse of 76. As of this morning it is 97/61 with a pulse of 51. I am 47 years old and went from 301 to a current of 178 lbs.

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    I 'll take a shot at this ...Year before last , went for physical...in April...(had not ridden for three very cold winter months...BP was 160/95...Doc wanted to do the BP med thing....Told me to take my BP every day for three weeks and then start taking a Med....I immediatly started riding at least 45 mins a day at a heart rate in the mid150 's (AGE here is 66)... when it was time to start the meds, BP was under125..saw him, and he said "don't start the Meds" ,and was very impressed. at 6 months after, BP was and is well under 115/75...NO Meds...RIDE RIDE RIDE....
    Bud

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