Genes may decide how your heart responds to exercise

Scientists identified that the presence of two common genetic mutations in receptors found in skeletal muscle led to higher blood pressure during exercise compared to people who did not have them, particularly in men. (Image for representation)

Your genes can determine how your heart rate and blood pressure respond to exercise -- and may act as an early warning of future cardiovascular problems, a study has found.

Until now it has not been known why the response to exercise varies between different people, researchers said.

The study, published in The Journal of Physiology, found that genetic differences in receptors found in skeletal muscles can contribute to this different response.

Receptors are groups of specialised cells that detect changes in the environment and cause some kind of response.

Scientists identified that the presence of two common genetic mutations in receptors found in skeletal muscle led to higher blood pressure during exercise compared to people who did not have them, particularly in men.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada, involved measuring heart rate and blood pressure of 200 healthy young men and women before and during a handgrip exercise, plus analysing their DNA for genetic risk factors.

The effect of genetic variants in the skeletal muscle receptors was significant, researchers said.

"This research suggests the presence of these receptors can contribute to larger blood pressure responses during exercise -- a risk factor for future problems with the heart or blood vessels," said Philip J Millar, an author of the study.

"It is important to examine why we saw this difference mainly in men, and to understand the specific mechanisms behind how these genetic variants influence their heart rate and blood pressure responses to exercise," Millar said.

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