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High Blood Pressure Linked to Drop in Walking Speed

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Many people suffer hypertension as they age, and a new study says it slows them down, literally.

High blood pressure is associated with a steeper drop in the average walking speeds of seniors, a new study finds.

Major decreases in walking speed can affect a senior’s ability to remain independent and indicate possible health problems; it may also predict who will develop dementia or disabilities, the researchers said.

They tracked the walking speeds of 643 seniors over 14 years. The participants, who were 76 at the start of the study, included 350 without high blood pressure and 293 who had undiagnosed hypertension or were taking medication for the condition.

The participants were divided into three groups: those without hypertension, those whose hypertension was diagnosed and under control; and those who were diagnosed and whose hypertension was not under control.

At the start of the study, the participants’ average walking speed was 2.2 mph. During the follow-up, the walking speed of those in the two high blood pressure groups decreased 0.2 miles per hour more than those without high blood pressure — a 10 percent decline.

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