mikejuk writes "If you are not a medic then presumably you, like me, thought that we knew most of the basics of what causes high blood pressure as we age. It turns out that we really didn't and now a new computer model casts light on the real reason for high blood pressure.
What is known about BP control is that there are pressure sensors in the walls of the major arteries. These are supposed to provide the feedback that the heart needs to keep the BP within normal limits — the so called baroreflex. However, it is also known that as the body ages the feedback or control mechanism seems to fail and the BP rises.
"By use of empirically well-constrained computer models describing the coupled function of the baroreceptor reflex and mechanics of the circulatory system, we demonstrate quantitatively that arterial stiffening seems sufficient to explain age-related emergence of hypertension."
The evidence that the model accurately captures the behavior of the complete system is that it reproduces the results of major surveys of BP with age and it models the sensitivity of the system to the Valsalva maneuver in subjects of varying ages. The Valsalva maneuver increases the BP when the subject breaths out hard against a closed airway.
This could provide new routes to creating medication to lower BP in an aging population.
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