Hypertension and full contact karate: anxiety or pathology?

J.S. Baker, M.R. Graham, B. Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The aim of this study was to identify hypertension in karate competitors (KC) at rest, pre-competition, during a routine medical examination prior to the event and at 1, 2 and eight minute intervals post event. The values obtained were compared with an age matched exercise control group (EC). Male subjects (n=84) were divided into two groups: KC (n=43, mean ± SD, age 30.1±1.3 years; height 1.74±0.01 m, weight 78.9±1.9 kg) and EC (n=41, mean ± SD, age 31.2±1.4 years; height 1.73±0.01 m, weight 79.1±2.1 kg). Resting blood pressure (BP) measurements were obtained on two occasions by a physician. The first measurement was taken the evening before the event and the second on the morning of the competition itself. The second measurements were performed as part of a routine medical examination. A further three measurement were taken post exercise for all subjects at 1, 2 and eight minute intervals. At rest, day 1, the mean BP of KC was 134/84±3/2 mmHg and on day 2, was 141/79±3/2 mmHg vs. EC, 124/72±1/2 mmHg, and 125/72±1/2 mmHg, respectively. Eight minutes post-competition, the BP of KC, BP was 140/77±2/1 mmHg and of EC was 135/75±2/1 mmHg. High blood pressure (HBP) was recorded in 60.5% of KC on day 2 and essential hypertension was subsequently diagnosed by their own general practitioners in 5% (n=2) of KC, which required medical therapy. Five percent of the EC also had HBP recorded, but subsequent medical examination reported normal values. Anxiety induced hypertension can mask essential hypertension in recreational activities. Medical practitioners, researchers and governing bodies of sport need to be aware of this finding if a potential health hazard is to be avoided.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Exercise Physiology Online
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • cardiovascular
  • high intensity exercise
  • hypertension


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