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Shallow breather? Look for hypertension.

Shallow breather? Look for hypertension

Take a deep breath. Now exhale, pushing out every last bit of air you can. The larger the volume of air forced from your lungs, the lower your chance of developing hypertension. That's the conclusion drawn from a major new study showing that "forced vital capacity" -- a measure of how much air a person can breathe into and out of the lungs -- cosntitutes as strong an independent predictor of hypertension risk as any ever identified, says Joseph V. Selby of the Kaiser Permanente (KP) Medical Care Program in Oakland, Calif.

Selby's team identified 26,429 health-plan members who had undergone at least two "multiphasic" exams (KP's periodic comprehensive physicals, including a detailed questionnaire) and whose blood pressure tested normal in the first exam some 18 to 25 years ago. Of this group, aged 30 to 49 at the first multiphasic exam, 1,031 became hypertensive by age 55.

From the same starting population of 26,429, the researchers then selected a demographically matched sample of 1,031 men and women who did not develop hypertension by age 55. In comparing the two groups' medical records and multiphasic exam results, they found that forced vital capacity and blood levels of uric acid, a breakdown product of nucleic acid metabolism, emerged as two of of hypertension's most predictive risk factors.

The 20 percent whose initial uric acid levels were highest proved more than twice as likely to develop hypertension as the 20 percent with the lowest uric acid levels, the researchers report in the June AMERICAN JOURNAL OF EPIDEMIOLOGY. And the 20 percent with the lowest lung capacity were 4.5 times more likely to become hypertensive than the 20 percent with the greatest lung capacity--even after the investigators accounted for recognized risk factors such as smoking, obesity, family history, adult weight gain and serum cholesterol. In fact, Selby says, these two factors are so "strikingly large" that they "suggest the possibility of a causal association," though he admits "we haven't a clue" to how they relate to hypertension.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 23, 1990
Words:342
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