Higher blood pressure may indicate better health in the very elderly, study finds

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While it seems counterintuitive, new research indicates that seniors with higher blood pressure rates may actually be healthier.

In an Oregon State University and University of California study that looked at blood pressure and walking speed among the elderly, researchers found that seniors with elevated blood pressures and fast walking speeds over 20 feet had a 35% risk for mortality within five years — roughly the same risk as a young adults. But seniors with higher blood pressure who didn't walk had a 60% lower risk for death, investigators found.

What that means, investigators say, is that physicians should continue to try and reduce blood pressure for those under 65, but should take an individual's physiology, functional status and frailty into account as they age.  

The OSU-UCSF study was published in the July issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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