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High blood pressure in seniors is not always a bad thing
07.17.2012Depending on your level of physical fitness and age, high blood pressure may not indicate you'll require emergency medicine in the near future.
Research recently presented by the American Medical Association suggests that high blood pressure in seniors living a "robust," active lifestyle may be a symptom of a serious illness. However, as some blood pressure increase comes naturally with aging, it could be a good sign for seniors who aren't necessarily in the best shape otherwise.
"As we age, our blood vessels lose elasticity and become stiff," explained Michelle Odden, a public health epidemiologist from Oregon State University. "Higher blood pressure could be a compensatory mechanism to overcome this loss of vascular elasticity and keep fresh blood pumping to the brain and heart."
The study asked 2,340 participating seniors to walk 20 meters at the same speed they normally would. Individuals who walked more than 0.8 meters a second were considered "robust," and were not as prone to fatal illness as those who walked slower. However, individuals who topped 0.8 meters a second and also had high blood pressure had a 35 percent greater risk of succumbing to illness than the rest of the fast walkers. Among individuals who couldn't keep up with the fast group, no correlation could be made between blood pressure and fatality risk. Participants with high blood pressure who couldn't walk 20 meters at all were 62 percent safer from serious diseases that would call for immediate care. .
One out of three American adults has high blood pressure, or hypertension, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Odden stressed that her research is in its early stages, and physicians should be consulted before making any hypertension-oriented decisions. High blood pressure has been known to lead to heart attacks, heart failure, stroke and aneurysms.
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