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Creatine and High Blood Pressure | Ask The Fitness Nerd

Posted Nov 17 2008 10:46pm

Can Creatine increase your blood pressure? The Fitness Nerd takes a closer look.

Hello Fitness Nerd,

I was inquiring into the possible connection between creatine use, and high blood pressure. 

I had been using creatine for about 4 weeks, not over-doing it, just a scoop a day after every workout.  Recently, I applied for a Police Force in my city, and when they took my blood pressure, they were somewhat shocked. 

Assuming I was nervous (which I wasn’t), they told me to take a few deeeeeeep breaths, in through your nose, out your mouth, yada yada yada…even calmer now, they took my blood pressure again, and they said, “it actually went up!” 

They were unable to let me do the fitness part of the test based on this, and I find it quite embarrassing since I don’t smoke, and I’m 5′ 10″ 175lbs.  I know we have a history of high blood pressure in our family (not something I’m going to put on my resume exactly!), but I think this is different. How can I feel calm, yet my bp says otherwise?  I went to a drug store last night, feeling pretty calm….my score was 133/69….heart rate 71….   From what I understand, that is unusual.  I took it a few minutes. later, it was 122/something…so I wasn’t sure if it went down, or it was just the machine giving inaccurate numbers…
Any help you’re willing to offer is appreciated. Brian.

Brian,

While the literature on creatine has found it generally safe for use among healthy adults, there are a number of reported side-effects associated with creatine supplementation. And guess what? One of them is high blood pressure.

So the elevated blood pressure that you saw at the Police Academy certainly could be the result of creatine use.

But before I get into creatine and its possible impact on blood pressure, let’s talk a little bit about about creatine for my readers who may be new to it.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally-occurring amino acid that is plentiful in skeletal tissue like muscle.  Fifty percent of the creatine in your body comes from diet (primarily from the consumption of red meat and poultry) and the remaining 50% is produced in the liver, kidney, and pancreas.

About one-third of the creatine in your body is bound-up with phosphate (also known as creatine phosphate or phosocreatine) and circulates freely in your body.

Your body essentially uses creatine to fuel high-intensity, short-duration exercise like weight lifting or sprinting.  Creatine phosphate plays a critical role in regenerating ATP, which is the process that the body uses to fuel muscle contraction, as well as protein production.

Creatine supplementation (typically via creatine monohydrate or one of its variations) basically increases the pool of available creatine phosphate, and in theory, reduces the amount of time required to regenerate the necessary levels of ATP to fuel an additional muscle contraction.

So people who supplement with creatine report being able to pump out an additional rep or two before fatiguing. It’s important to stress that creatine is not an anabolic steroid, but rather a natural vehicle for increasing the ability to perform work without fatiguing — which eventually may lead to increased muscle mass and athletic performance by performing more work, and progressively overloading the muscles.

Creatine also draws water into the muscle, which is one of the reasons that people often not only experience body weight gain during supplementation, but also observe an increase in the appearance of muscle volume. This may also be a mechanism for increasing blood pressure (since the body is retaining more water, which may impact blood volume — and thus, blood pressure.) However, a review of the scientific research cannot confirm this.

A lot of people who try creatine report that it makes them look larger, but not necessarily more “ripped.” This is because much of the initial gain comes from water retention in muscle tissue — and not from additional muscle mass. However, over time, the gains in additional work performed during weight training, can increase muscle growth and size (hypertrophy) that persist even after stopping creatine supplementation.

(more…)

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Tags: AFSSA, Ask The Fitness Nerd, ATP, Blood Pressure, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, BP, Creatine, Creatine and High Blood Pressure, Creatine Benefits, Creatine Monohydrate, Creatine Phosphate, Creatine Research, Creatine Side Effects, Creatine Study, Creatine Supplementation, Diarrhea, Dizziness, Free-Form Creatine, Health Effects of Creatine, hypertrophy, Kidney Damage, Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, Muscle Cramps, Muscle Pulls, Muscle Strains, National Collegiete Athletic Association, NCAA, Phosocreatine, Stomach Upset, Supplements, The French Agency of Medical Security for Food, The Healthy Competition Foundation, Water Retention, Weight & Resistance Training

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