A South American tribe living in near-total isolation with no Western dietary influences showed no increase in average blood pressure from age one to age 60, according to a study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In comparison, a nearby tribe whose diet includes some processed foods and salt did show higher blood pressure into late middle age.
In the U.S. and most other countries, blood pressure rises with age, beginning early in life. Results of this study support the idea that the tendency in Westernized societies for blood pressure to rise with age is not a natural part of aging but could result from a cumulative effect of exposure to Western diet and lifestyle.
The findings appear November 14 in the journal JAMA Cardiology.
“The idea that rising blood pressure is a result of aging is a widely held belief in cardiology, but our findings add to evidence that rising blood pressure may be an avoidable consequence of Western diet and lifestyle rather than aging itself,” says Dr. Noel Mueller, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Bloomberg School and member of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research.