Research we're watching
Image: © AndreyPopov/Getty Images
Among people in the United States and other westernized countries, blood pressure readings tend to rise with age. But a new study suggests that's not true for the Yanomami, a tribe of hunter-gatherer-gardeners living in a remote Venezuelan rain forest.
Researchers measured blood pressure in 72 Yanomami people and 83 people from a nearby tribe, the Yekwana. The people ranged in age from 1 to 60 years old. The Yekwana have been slightly "westernized," thanks to missionaries and an airstrip that allows for occasional deliveries of processed food and salt.
The Yanomami had no age-related rise in blood pressure. But the Yekwana's blood pressure readings began rising during childhood — by about a quarter of a point per year, on average. As the authors suggest, "a rise in blood pressure may not be natural but rather a consequence of unnatural Western exposures." The study was published online Nov. 14, 2018, by JAMA Cardiology.
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.