Study uncovers link between elderly falls, and high blood pressure, altered blood flow in brain

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There may be a connection between high blood pressure and hardened arteries, and an increased risk of falls among seniors, according to a new study.

Researchers with Harvard University's Institute for Aging Research measured the brain blood flow of 419 seniors aged 65 and older. The seniors' mobility was also measured over a 12-foot walking course. Seniors with higher blood pressure or stiffened arteries were less able to transport oxygen and glucose to the brain during periods of heavy breathing. Seniors in the bottom 20% for good blood flow were 70% more likely to experience a fall during the course of the study than seniors with better brain blood flow, according to the results of the trial.

High blood pressure treatments, including treatments with statins to reduce high cholesterol levels, could help improve blood flow to the brain, researchers say. This, in turn, could help reduce the likelihood of falls in some seniors, though more research is needed to determine the potential benefits of blood pressure treatment on falls, they conclude. The report appears in the May 18 issue of Neurology.
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