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High blood pressure is linked to bone loss.

Inexorably in·ex·o·ra·ble  
Not capable of being persuaded by entreaty; relentless: an inexorable opponent; a feeling of inexorable doom. See Synonyms at inflexible.
, people lose bone mass as they age. Lack of exercise, inadequate calcium intake, a high-salt diet, and, in women, menopause menopause (mĕn`əpôz) or climacteric (klīmăk`tərĭk, klī'măktĕr`ĭk)  can exacerbate the decline. A new study finds that high blood pressure--already known to hike the risk of heart disease--also coincides with the thinning of the bones.

Researchers tracked 3,676 white women over age 65 at four clinics in or near Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, and Portland, Ore. Precise measurements of the thigh bone (Anat.) the femur.

See also: Thigh
 revealed that women with an initial systolic blood pressure Systolic blood pressure
Blood pressure when the heart contracts (beats).

Mentioned in: Hypertension
 reading of 148 or more had an average bone-density loss equal to roughly 0.6 percent of their bone mass per year. In contrast, women with a systolic Systolic
The phase of blood circulation in which the heart's pumping chambers (ventricles) are actively pumping blood. The ventricles are squeezing (contracting) forcefully, and the pressure against the walls of the arteries is at its highest.
 reading of less than 124 suffered bone loss at about half that rate, says study coauthor Joseph M. Zmuda, an epidemiologist at the University of Pittsburgh. Declines in bone density, which can lead to osteoporosis osteoporosis (ŏs'tēō'pərō`sĭs), disorder in which the normal replenishment of old bone tissue is severely disrupted, resulting in weakened bones and increased risk of fracture; osteopenia , are due to calcium loss.

The researchers collected the data between 1988 and 1994, measuring bone density for each woman on two occasions 3 1/2 years apart. They report their findings in the Sept. 18 LANCET.

"We all lose bone as we age," Zmuda says. "Women with high blood pressure experience it faster."

The mechanism behind this loss remains unclear, says study coauthor Francesco P. Cappuccio, an epidemiologist and cardiovascular physician at St. George's Noun 1. St. George's - the capital and largest city of Grenada
capital of Grenada

Grenada - an island state in the West Indies in the southeastern Caribbean Sea; an independent state within the British Commonwealth
 Hospital Medical School in London. About 97 percent of the body's calcium is stored in bones. Small amounts of calcium also circulate in the blood, where they play a vital metabolic role. The body keeps its calcium in balance by excreting the excess in urine.

Earlier studies in animals and people indicated that as blood pressure rises, so does calcium in the urine. Although women taking drugs to lower blood pressure were excluded from the study at the start, 623 women began taking such medication during the 3 1/2 years that they were followed. The drugs did not change their bone-loss rate.

High blood pressure is probably not the cause of bone loss but a marker of another problem, Cappuccio says. Excluding these women from the final analysis didn't change the overall findings.

The 15 percent of women in the current study on hormone-replacement therapy Noun 1. hormone-replacement therapy - hormones (estrogen and progestin) are given to postmenopausal women; believed to protect them from heart disease and osteoporosis
hormone replacement therapy, HRT
 had about half as much bone loss, on average, as others did.

The study shows "an interesting association" between high blood pressure and bone loss, says Jeri W. Nieves, an epidemiologist at Helen Hayes This article is about the British actress. For the similarly named American actress, see Helen Hayes.

Helen Haye (August 28, 1874 - September 1, 1957) was a British actress. She often worked for Alexander Korda.
 Hospital in West Haverstraw, N.Y. Further research that measures salt intake, calcium lost through the urine, or even the level of exercise might help clarify the mechanism at work, she says.

The researchers didn't measure salt intake among the women but suggest that it might play a part. Salt gradually siphons calcium out of the body, and high-salt diets often accompany high blood pressure. "It's pretty unlikely that this massive [bone loss] is due to constant high salt intake," Cappuccio says. "But it may be a contributing factor."

Meanwhile, Cappuccio says, lowering high blood pressure remains a good idea to lessen other health risks.
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Author:Seppa, N.
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 25, 1999
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