Parkinson’s Disease and Hypertension
What is hypertension?
According to WHO, hypertension is defined as having raised or high blood pressure, where the blood vessels in our body have persistent raised pressure. Every time the heart pumps, these blood vessels transport blood from the heart to other parts in our body. It is the force of blood against the walls of these vessels that causes blood pressure, where raised pressure results in our heart having to pump harder.
Hypertension is a major cause of premature death worldwide (where one in four men and one in five women are living with hypertension). This serious condition has the ability to increase the risk of brain, kidney, heart and other diseases. Risk factors that commonly cause hypertension are often modifiable lifestyle factors, such as obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption and diets high in fat and salt.
Hypertension can often be prevented or managed/treated through exercise and healthy diet, or taking prescribed medications that enable blood pressure to be reduced.
How prevalent is hypertension for those living with Parkinson’s Disease?
Studies show that hypertension is the second most common comorbidity for those with Parkinson’s disease, where the likelihood of having hypertension is above 33%. It is important to know that the prevalence rates of hypertension for those with Parkinson’s disease are lower when compared to the general population. For those living with Parkinson’s disease, the main cause of hypertension is said to be due to baroreflex failure, where fluctuations in blood pressure are experienced as well as bouts of hypertension. This in turn can cause an elevated heart rate in response to exercise, pain and stress.
Can exercise help with hypertension for those with Parkinson’s disease?
One of the most common neurodegenerative diseases in the world is Parkinson’s disease. A large amount of evidence suggests that various types of exercise can have beneficial effects on both nonmotor and motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Simultaneously, studies highlight that exercise can also reduce the risk of hypertension, as well as aid in its management. Additionally, exercise has been shown to complement Parkinson’s disease medications, overall improving the health and wellbeing for those with Parkinson’s disease and hypertension.
Written by Leonie Keiper
Hypertension. (2022). Retrieved 14 January 2022, from https://www.who.int/health-topics/hypertension#tab=tab_1
Wang, X., Zeng, F., Jin, W., Zhu, C., Wang, Q., & Bu, X. et al. (2017). Comorbidity burden of patients with Parkinson’s disease and Parkinsonism between 2003 and 2012: A multicentre, nationwide, retrospective study in China. Scientific Reports, 7(1). doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-01795-0
Xu, X., Fu, Z., & Le, W. (2019). Exercise and Parkinson's disease. International Review Of Neurobiology, 45-74. doi: 10.1016/bs.irn.2019.06.003