03 June 2019

Kristofer Hedman is currently working as a postdoc at Stanford University in California. He has led a study into high blood pressure in elite athletes, and an article with its results has been accepted for publication in the scientific journal Heart.

Elite athlete swims in a pool.
As many as one third of all athletes may need to be rechecked if new blood pressure limit values are introduced. Guduru Ajay Bhargav

The single most important result in the article is that the recently updated values used to classify high blood pressure in young people and adults may lead to as many as a third of all athletes requiring follow up. Kristofer Hedman says that we must be aware of this, before we consider reducing the values used to define high blood pressure in athletes.
“If the limits are to be reduced, we need to reconsider how we measure blood pressure, in order to avoid erroneously high values caused by improper measurement procedures.”

Many athletes have high blood pressure

Another important result is that a considerable fraction of athletes do have relatively high blood pressure, independently of the limit values used.
“Many of these individuals also show signs of a type of adaptation in the heart that previous studies have shown to be associated with impaired heart function in the long run.”
Kristofer Hedman believes that it would be interesting to follow athletes with increased blood pressure and those with blood pressure close to the limit in order to see the eventual outcome.
“Such initiatives are under way at Stanford. Unfortunately, a similar register is not available in Sweden, but it would be interesting to consider whether we could establish one in the future.”

Article in Heart: Blood pressure in athletic preparticipation evaluation and the implication for cardiac remodelling

Translated by George Farrants

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