If high blood pressure is impacting gait, it is a risk factor that possibly can be controlled in order to help people stay active as they age."
The study wasn't able to determine why blood pressure is impacting gait. However, Shah notes it may partially be related to stroke. The study found that diabetes, vascular diseases, or cognition did not change the association of blood pressure and lower limb function. Although baseline clinical stroke had no effect on higher blood pressure being associated with lower limb function, when researchers took out individuals that developed stroke during the study, the relationship between blood pressure and mobility wasn't as strong.
Further studies examining lifelong blood pressure measures will be necessary to fully explore why there is a link between blood pressure and lower limb function. In addition, Shah hopes clinical trials will study if the treatment of blood pressure improves walking abilities.
"Gait difficulties are very common in older adults. We hope our research will lead to better treatment options and to preventive measures that will help older adults maintain active, independent lives ," said Shah.
The investigators are part of the institution's Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, headed by Dr. David Bennett. The AD Center is one of 30 across the U.S. supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health to study and care for Alzheimer's patients.
The Rush researchers are extremely grateful for the remarkable dedication and altruism of the volunteers participating in the Religious Orders Study, a longitudinal, clinical-pathologic study of older persons without dementia The research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging, which leads the Federal effort to support and conduct basic, clinical, and social and behavioral studies on aging and on Alzheimer's disease.
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