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Lowering pressure as a fountain of youth.

Lowering pressure as a fountain of youth?

High blood pressure hastens the rate at which blood vesselsage, says Aram V. Chobanian of Boston University. His studies on rats indicate that lowering blood pressure can significantly slow vessel aging, both in rats with high blood pressure and in rats with normal pressures.

Blood vessel walls of young rats that are genetically hypertensiveor have chemically induced hypertension show the same structural features as vessels from aged rats, Chobanian and his colleagues have found. In two sets of experiments, they used drugs to keep pressure down from infancy in rats that otherwise would have had high pressure or high-normal pressure. In both groups "the vessels stayed almost like young vessels," says Chobanian.

But the blood pressure lowering has to start early. When theresearchers delayed drug treatment until genetically hypertensive rats were about a quarter of the way through their life cycles, the blood vessels still deteriorated.

While these data indicate that lowering normal bloodpressure in rats slows the vessel aging process, they are not strong enough to suggest that people with normal blood pressure start taking pressure-lowering drugs as a ticket to eternal life. "You may prevent vascular aging -- and I don't know whether you can -- but you can introduce some other problems that could be a little more severe," he says. Among the drugs' possible side effects: lethargy, fatigue and sexual dysfunction.
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Title Annotation:blood pressure and rate of blood vessel aging
Author:Silberner, Joanne
Publication:Science News
Date:Feb 7, 1987
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