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Hum Biol. 1999 Aug;71(4):529-51.

Blood pressure and age in cross-cultural perspective.

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New Century College, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030-4444, USA.


Studies in traditional, nonindustrialized countries have shown that blood pressure need not increase with age in adulthood, although incremental age-related increases in blood pressure throughout adulthood are common in industrialized countries. This observation has influenced a statement by the 1997 Sixth Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure that a major future challenge is to "prevent the rise of blood pressure with age." The methods of preventing age-related blood pressure increases are not specified in the report. Anthropological surveys of populations with little or no change in blood pressure with age are difficult to replicate and verify, leaving future researchers the task of developing prevention strategies primarily based on studies of populations in which blood pressure increases with age. Here, I review blood pressure surveys used from 1954 to 1998 that have been used in the literature as examples of blood pressure and age research. This review reveals some of the difficulties in clearly defining the exact relationship between blood pressure and age and some of the problems in the development of methods to prevent age-related blood pressure increases.

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