Just diagnosed with High Blood Pressure

My GP has just detected high blood pressure when I visted to ask for medical certificate for a marathon in France. It is around 170/115. I am 41 and there are no signs of any underlying causes, and of course I have been doing a hell of a lot of exercise through running.

While we do further tests, the GP has told me to stop running and not to do any vigorous exercise at all. She has also alreday sounded me out about how I would feel about going on medication - and I see that many of the pills have pretty bad side effects.

Although I'm obviously going to follow the GPs advice, I'd appreciate it hearing from other forumites about whether they've been able to continue running with high blood pressure and how it's affected their performance. I'm also pretty worried about these meds. Running is a really, really important part of my life and I don't want to give it up!




  • Really sorry to read this and feel for you. For me, running was one of the things that helped me get both my weight and blood pressure down. On minimal medication now after years of taking beta-blockers and diuretics. Unfortunately, there are often no underlying causes. Stress, illness, working in a different environment etc can all lead to short term spikes in blood pressure. Hopefully, they'll be able to get your BP down and you'll get the ok to start running again. Could be just a precaution as exercise is usually one of the first things recommended to reduce it. I wish you all the best.

  • I have been on medication for bp for quite a few years and I am now in the process of reducing it with my GP's blessing - so it's not all a one way street.

    It might be worth investing in a good quality home monitor.  My blood pressure would shoot up as soon as I walked in the surgery, but strangely during the times I was a hospital in-patient it was usually around normal.  If your readings are otherwise low you might persuade your GP you have a bad case of 'white coat syndrome'.  Otherwise you could ask to be fitted with an ambulatory monitor - athough I found this quite an unpleasant, it might give a truer picture.

    I was lucky that before medication - with readings somewhat higher than yours - I was referred to a cardiac specialist who understood running.  He encouraged me to continue and said that both beta blockers and diuretics were out as far as he was concerned.  He then suggested a low dose of Candesartan cilexitil which I found had no side effects.

    If your GP decides on medication as a first resort I would suggest you ask for a  second opinion - as neil says exercise is generally recommended and usually advice given regarding diet and salt reduction are also tried before medication.

    Good luck.

  • Yeah, as Bear says it's not a one way street and the diet and salt reduction (not to mention alcohol - not casting aspertions by the way!) can also make a big difference. As my weight & BP started to go down, my previous GP didn't want to know about altering the medication. For a number of reasons I got a new GP who was far more interested in me and much more pro-active. Been off the dreaded beta blockers for about 2.5 years now and, as mentioned in previous post, take minimal medication now. Get it checked every two months at the health centre and it's very stable and well in the healthy range so you can definitely turn it around. Feel quite strongly about this, hence the second post. Good luck.
  • I've had high BP for a few years which is kept under control by medication. My doc is very supportive of my running and general fitness levels and reckons it'd be much worse if I wasn't so fit.

    I had reason to see a cardio consultant (not to do with my BP) a couple of weeks ago and whilst he changed my meds slightly saw no reason to do anything more dramatic. I'd stopped running for a few weeks, but he gave me the all clear to start again. He also told me that i could do a marasthon in early December that i was planning to. He mentioned that the only real danger is if your arteries are restricted, but used some wonderful logic that as I'd already ran 2 marathons this year, its unlikely to apply to me.

    He also kept me of beta blockers as he said that I'd never be able to get out of bed as my heart rate would be soooo low.image 

    I'd say don't worry too much, its probably just precautionary whilst they sort out your meds and if not then go and see a specialist. Once they have your meds sorted it shouldn't affect you too much.

    If I can be of any support then pm me.

  • thanks for your advice and support, guys...it's really appreciated. Still at early stage of all this - it comes as quite a shock to discover you have this problem when you're a healthy weight and exercising regularly. Unfortunately, i think the first difficulty I'm going to have is managing my GP, who is quite clear that her priority is to see patients as quickly as possible. I've already started changing my diet and reducing coffees so we'll see how that goes. Workplace stress could also do with coming down (but I used to use running for that!)

    fingers crossed!

  • BookyBooky ✭✭✭

    If you want a bit more guidance on the dietary side of things, have a read of this:

    DASH diet


  • this is very useful, Ultra Bookie...thanks!

  • Just to add to whats been said, I've been on BP tablets since I was 19, I'm now 52. If you have to take tablets stay off the beta blockers, I've taken calcium antagonist type tablets and ACE inhibitors. Whilst on the medication I've managed a 10k pb of 32 min, 5k pb 15 min, so need to worry about our running.

  • Did she only do one test?  According to the doctors in the office (I work for a ccg) you have to have several readings showing a high blood pressure before it is confirmed.  

    Hard to believe that you could have high blood pressure when training for a marathon.  Get a retest.

  • we've now done 3 readings at the surgery, plus I've been home-testing, and unfortunately the results are right.

    the doctor has banned me from running until I can see a cardiologist for a full range of tests (so far, we've only done a blood test and ECG - both clear) but says her priority will be to get me running again (she is a runner herself, fortunately!).

    in the meantime, she's started me off on a low dose of an inhibitor and i'm changing my diet. the home readings are down to roughly 150/105.

    hoping i can still make the VLM (which i just got a club place for), but at the moment the doc says only swimming is OK. better safe that sorry, she says, and i'm inclined to agree.

    thanks again for your advice chaps... Surrey, hopefully I'll see you on the My Last Run forum again soon!

  • Sorry to hear about the confirmation.  I will be lurking in the injury section for a while longer.  Will have to defer my vlm place in 14.  

  • Yes, sorry to read this too. However, it's good to note that your BP is coming down and while 150/105 is high its not stratospheric and hopefully you can continue to get it down. Good luck and let us know how it goes with the cardiologist. All the best.
  • now down to 135-140 top reading, but bottom reading still stubbornly at around 100 so GP has upped the dose. she seems more worried about the lower reading - not quite sure why.

    on the plus side, i have a cardiologist appointment next week, which will hopefully be helpful..and - whispher - i'm quite enjoying swimming....

  • RedjeepRedjeep ✭✭✭

    Good to hear that it's dropping and that you get to see the specialist next week. Hopefully they'll give you the all clear.

  • Saw the consultant yesterday and she's given me the all clear. the ACE inhibitor has got the readings down to 130/85 and continuing to come down. she also seems confident that the drugs won't affect my performance.

    however, this episode is a warning to other runners. the high blood pressure had caused my heart muscle to thicken because of the extra work involved in getting the ticker to beat...this is expected to stop and indeed reverse now the BP is under control but could have been potentially dangerous if it had not been spotted by chance at that original checkup. i'd urge all runners to get a basic MOT done. it's not being soft - it's staying safe.


  • Great news Baldbloke. Really pleased for you. Apparently the bottom figure is more important than the top one. I think it's called the systolic blood pressure?

    Anyway, your advice is spot on. You must be absolutely chuffed to get the all clear to start running again.
  • i have just been diagnosed with high blood pressure 213/110 , doctor advised me to stop running and she will review when I go back this Friday.for blood pressure readings and blood tests. Prescribed ramipril. Readings now 183/90. So going in the right direction . I myself was training for Stafford half 

  • Shaz4, I've been taking Ramipril 10mg for a few years, have no impact on my running at all, you should be fine. 

  • hi Shaz - yep definitely stop running until your BP is brought under control...which is completely doable as my case shows...the consultant showed me on the ECG how runing with undetected high PB had enlarged my heart muscle - that's something you don't want to happen...with a bit of patience you should be back to running fairly soon. after a couple of weeks back, i too would say there are no signs of Rampiril affecting my performance...as for other side effects, there were a few minor ones (dry cough, bit of a rash) initially but they soon wore off. keep us updated on this forum with your progress - i, for one, will be interested to follow it...and make sure you do the other things which the docs recommend, such as eliminating salt from your diet and cutting down on stress. this also really helps!

    btw, my BP is now down to 125/80.

  • Yes, shaz...your doctor will start with blood tests to check other possible underlying causes (about 10 per cent of cases). There's good infornation on the blood pressure uk website.

    try not to worry much...it's a pretty common condition and you're lucky its being picked up!

  • I have high blood pressure. Running hasn't made it go down much, but hey I'm still a lot healthier. image

    so I have high BP. I take 2 tablets and get on with my lifeimage no biggie. 

    My doc was quite pessimistic when I asked about getting fitter, and dieting and getting off the tablets, he was  very much once you start them you are usually on them for a long time. I have lost six stone can run a very very slow 50m ultra. When I try not taking the tablets and taking my own blood pressure within 3 days it's high again. 

  • underlying high BP is a life-long condition. no two ways about it, unfortunately. but it is manageable. no biggie, indeed.

    50m ultra is impressive, however long it takes!

  • 50m is not that impressive really, but I suppose it's all relative.   I'm hoping that with training, booktrunk can soon work up to 100m, 400m and even up to a full kilometre by the summer.

    I'm a white coat man when it comes to BP.  Was often above the 145/90 mark... sometimes up to 160/100....   but at home, I could easily be sub 135/85... even sub 120/80. But the doctors never saw those!  I got one of those ambulatory machines from the docs for 24hrs (which unlike an earlier contributor, I found perfectly comfortable) - and the results were like I got at home, so I was told to go away and worry no more.

    It still concerns me a bit though!  One GP... who seemed to be knowledgable, once told me that statistically,, if you show 'white coat syndrome'...  you can be OK now, but you have a high chance that you'll end up with genuine high blood pressure sooner or later.

  • NN: Thanks for the encouragement.  I'm really hoping to double it over the next year.  image

  • Just found this post, have entered the Paris marathon and need a docs certificate to enter. Have got a place also! Has anyone had any issues getting a docs certificate for marathons with high blood pressure? I have been taking Amlodipine and Ramipril also, hate taking them, but they are definately bringing the BP right down, 

  • baldblokebaldbloke ✭✭✭

    Hi Ian

    they shouldn't give you a certificate if the BP is too high and not under control because this is potentially dangerous and you simply shouldn't run. in my case, the heart muscle had actually slightly enlarged because of the extra strain the undiagnosed high bP was putting on it. but as soon as the BP was controlled, the docs were happy to give the all clear, telling me the muscle would slowly revert to normal size. in terms of the medication, even once you're ok to run again they need to keep you under review, check kidney function etc. it's all sortable, but don't put yourself at risk for the sake of a month or two off running.

    and the drugs don't seem to have made any difference to me...i'm running strong at the moment. so have patience and good luck!

  • Hi Baldbloke, 

    this sounds exactly the same issues as myself. Had the enlarged heart muscle spiel also, had a scan which showed up, was told the same thing that it will decrease with time on the medication. I have been laying off the running for about 6 months and I am now going to get back into it with some gentle gym work and build it up again. Have just put a call in to the docs about the certificate for Paris. Wont pay up the entrance fee just yet unless they give me the go ahead. They did seem to think that it would be good to start training again which is good news. 

  • baldblokebaldbloke ✭✭✭

    sounds to me like you still need the docs to have a quick look and check the BP is now firmly down...then you can go for it running-wise as much as you like. My understanding is that gym work is actually more dangerous than light running/swimming.. and make sure your docs continue to do those regular checks on renal function etc...

    as said earlier in this forum, high BP is completely manageable and shouldn't hold back your running...and it's good news that it's been spotted!

  • Blimey - interseting read. I got diagnosed on Friday evening with 195/100. I didn't ask the Doctor about exercise, and went out for an 8 mile run on Sunday...my longest run in months...

    Well, I'm still alive...
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