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Hypertension. 2012 Jul;60(1):123-8. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.111.187757. Epub 2012 May 21.

Effects of hunter-gatherer subsistence mode on arterial distensibility in Cameroonian pygmies.

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Hypertension Clinic, Department of Cardiology, Université Libre de Bruxelles-Erasme Hospital, 808 Lennik Rd 1070, Brussels, Belgium.


We aimed to assess whether arterial distensibility estimated by pulse wave velocity (PWV) and augmentation index (AI) differs between Cameroon traditional pygmies (TPs) on hunter-gather subsistence mode, contemporary pygmies who migrated to semiurban area, and the Bantou farmers (BFs) sharing the same environment. For that purpose, we recorded carotid-femoral PWV (ComplioR) in age and sex carefully matched 20 TPs, 20 contemporary pygmies, and 22 BFs. Aortic AI corrected for heart rate and blood pressures were generated from pressure wave analysis (SphygmoCor). Lipid profile was determined in TP and BF participants. TPs were shorter (P=0.02) with lower body weight (P<0.01) in comparison with contemporary pygmies and BFs. TPs had lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol but higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol than BFs (P<0.01). Their PWV (5.81±0.21 m/s) was slower (P=0.006) than that of contemporary pygmies (6.82±0.36 m/s) or BFs (6.93±0.29 m/s); however, after its adjustment for age, mean arterial pressure, and heart rate, the difference was slightly attenuated (P=0.051). PWV adjusted for weight did not differ between groups (P=0.10). In the whole study population but not in TPs taken separately, multivariate regression analysis revealed that PWV was independently associated with mean arterial pressure, age, and TP status (P<0.001), whereas age, mean arterial pressure, and height emerged as independent determinants of aortic AI corrected for heart rate (P<0.001). Aortic AI corrected for heart rate did not differ in the 3 groups. In conclusion, hunter-gather lifestyle is associated with low atherosclerosis risk translated by lower aortic stiffness attributed at least partly to low weight and blunted effects of aging and blood pressures on TP arterial structure and function.

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