Hunter-Gatherer Lifestyle Tied to Low Atherosclerosis Risk

Second study shows lower age-related increase in blood pressure; less hypertension

TUESDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- Traditional hunter-gatherers have a lower risk of atherosclerosis, lower age-related increases in blood pressure, and reduced prevalence of hypertension, according to two studies published online May 21 in Hypertension.

In the first study, Daniel Lemogoum, M.D., M.P.H., from the Université Libre de Bruxelles-Erasme Hospital in Brussels, and colleagues recorded carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity and augmentation index (measures of arterial distensibility) in 20 traditional pygmies on hunter-gather subsistence mode, 20 contemporary pygmies who migrated to a semi-urban area, and 22 Bantou farmers, all matched for age and gender and living in Cameroon. The researchers found that traditional pygmies had lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol than Bantou famers. Their pulse wave velocity was slower than that of Bantou farmers and contemporary pygmies, although the difference was attenuated after adjustment for confounding variables.

In the second study, Michael Gurven, Ph.D., from the University of California Santa Barbara, and colleagues measured age-related changes in blood pressure in 2,296 Tsimane adult forager-farmers, indigenous hunter-gatherers living in Bolivia. The researchers found that the rises in blood pressure per decade were 2.86 mm Hg for women and 0.91 mm Hg for men for systolic blood pressure and 0.95 mm Hg for women and 0.93 mm Hg for men for diastolic blood pressure. These were substantially lower than rates in the Western world. The prevalence of persistent hypertension, based on multiple observations, was 2.9 percent.

"Many aspects of traditional diet and activities were preserved even among more modern Tsimane, suggesting that they have not yet experienced severe changes that would otherwise promote greater hypertension and cardiovascular disease," Gurven and colleagues conclude.

Abstract - Lemogoum
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Abstract - Gurven
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