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Higher Blood Pressure: Possible Reason for Losing Mobility

Higher Blood Pressure: Possible Reason for Losing Mobility

Gait difficulties in older persons may be caused by higher blood pressure, as a research of the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center suggests.

During the study 888 older Catholic clergy without dementia or Parkinson's disease were tested concerning their blood pressure, the presence of vascular diseases. Diabetes was recorded, cognitive function was assessed, and medications were inspected. At baseline and subsequent annual visits, gait and balance were assessed using performance-based tasks.

Participants completed a mean of nearly eight annual evaluations with a high rate of follow-up. Controlling for age, education, and gender, the study found a 10mmHg increment in systolic blood pressure was associated with greater decline in lower limb function. On average, lower limb function declined 28.7% faster in persons with a systolic blood pressure of 160 mmHg than in persons with a normal systolic blood pressure of 120 mmHg.

Dr. Raj Shah, medical director of the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center Memory Clinic, points out: "After memory loss, the biggest concern of older individuals is loss of mobility. If high blood pressure is impacting gait, it is a risk factor that possibly can be controlled in order to help people stay active as they age.”

Though the study couldn't determine why blood pressure is impacting gait, Dr. Shah notes its possible relation to stroke. It was shown that diabetes, vascular diseases, or cognition did not change the association of blood pressure and lower limb function. Although baseline clinical stroke had no effect on higher blood pressure being associated with lower limb function, when researchers took out individuals that developed stroke during the study, the relationship between blood pressure and mobility wasn't as strong.; Source: Rush University Miedical Center

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