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Higher Blood Pressure Later in Life May be Due to Diet

It’s commonly believed that blood pressure naturally rises with age. However, it may actually be a result of diet. A recent study involving two South American tribes suggests that a Western diet may contribute to higher blood pressure later in life.


For this study, researchers examined two tribes: The Yanomami, living in near-isolation with no Western influences on their diet and the Yekwana, a nearby tribe whose diet includes some processed foods and salt. The researchers took blood pressure measurements from 72 Yanomami between the ages of one and 60 and from 83 Yekwana in the same age range.


They found that the Yanomami had an average blood pressure of 95 mmHg systolic over 63 diastolic. In comparision, the Yekwana had similar blood pressure measurements in childhood to the Yanomami. However, they showed increases of approximately 0.25 mm Hg per year. By age 10, the Yekwana had blood pressure averaging 5.8 mmHg higher than the Yanomami and by age 50 it was an average 15.9 mmHg higher.


In US adults, the average blood pressure measurements are 122 systolic and 71 diastolic. Systolic blood pressure in the US rises by approximately 1.5 mm HG and 1.9 mm HG per year among boys and girls respectively, and 0.6 mm HG per year among adults.


Researchers from Johns Hopkins University led the study. It was published on November 14, 2018, in JAMA Cardiology.


Previous research suggests that the healthiest diet is one that is rich in fish, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in processed foods and sugars. If you’re trying to make a dietary change, try moving slowly. Change one unhealthy habit at a time for best results.

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