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Why Blood Pressure Rises with Age

Blood pressure often rises with aging. Contrary to what many doctors think, salt, obesity and alcohol have little to do with this rise.

High blood pressure is associated with heart attacks, strokes, aging and premature death. High blood pressure associated with aging is probably caused by damage to the arteries leading to the kidneys. Obesity, excess salt and alcohol cause reversible high blood pressure. Taking a large amount of salt can cause your body to retain fluid, enlarge blood volume and raise blood pressure temporarily, but blood pressure returns to normal soon afterwards. For most people, taking in a lot of salt does not raise blood pressure. Drinking alcohol raises blood pressure only for a short time. Obesity is associated with a sustained high blood pressure at any age, but it is usually reversible with weight loss.

Damaged kidney arteries, called intimal fibroplasia, appears to be the most likely cause of high blood pressure in older people who are not overweight. Prevention of high blood pressure with aging includes preventing kidney arterial damage by eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts, reducing your intake of processed foods and dairy products, exercising and avoiding overweight. See my Modified DASH diet.

RE Tracy. Salt, obesity, and alcohol fail to induce a lasting rise of blood pressure with age, and may be independent of renocortical vasculopathy.Qjm - Monthly Journal of the Association of Physicians, 1999, Vol 92, Iss 10, pp 601-607.Address Tracy RE, Louisiana State Univ, Med Ctr, Dept Pathol, 1901 Perdido St, New Orleans,LA 70112 USA

Checked 3/21/15

August 22nd, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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