It’s been known for a while that high blood pressure (hypertension) is linked to a greater risk of heart disease and stroke, but new research suggests it may also be connected to significant bone aging. The study, presented at the American Heart Association’s Hypertension Scientific Sessions 2022 conference, found that people with hypertension were more likely to have bone mineral density declines and fractures than those without the condition.
High blood pressure and osteoporosis are both conditions that are prevalent among older people. Since many people have hypertension and osteoporosis simultaneously, researchers used mice to find how the two conditions may be associated.
Lead study author Elizabeth Maria Hennen said, “By understanding how hypertension contributes to osteoporosis, we may be able to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and better protect people later in life from having fragility fractures and a lower quality of life.”
For the study, researchers used young mice with induced hypertension and compared them to older mice without hypertension to assess the potential relationship to bone aging. All mice were examined for six weeks, and micro-computed tomography, an advanced imaging technique, was used to analyze their bones. Bone health was determined by the density and strength of the bone, and mathematical algorithms were used to estimate the effects of hypertension on the bones.
It was found that the young mice with induced hypertension had a significant 24% reduction in bone volume fraction. They also had an 18% reduction in the thickness of the sponge-like trabecular bone located at the end of long bones and a 34% reduction in estimated failure force, which is the ability of bones to withstand different types of force.
Inflammation also seemed to play a role in bone health. Researchers found that the mice with poor bone health had a continued state of inflammation.
“In these mice, being hypertensive at a younger age essentially aged bones as if they were 15-25 human years older,” Hennen said.
As more research becomes available, doctors can help prevent osteoporosis and other conditions more easily. This study shows how hypertension can be marked as a possible risk factor for osteoporosis. So, for younger people with high blood pressure, steps should be taken to get it under control before it leads to osteoporosis later in life.
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