For strong bones at all ages and to prevent osteoporosis and fractures, keep your blood pressure under control! Yes, in fact, hypertension, even if it affects young people, not only puts the cardiovascular system at risk but can also damage our skeleton, increasing its fragility and aging it quickly. This is what emerges from a very recent scientific research proposed by a group of American researchers from Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, on the occasion of the American Heart Association's Hypertension Scientific Sessions 2022 conference, held in San Diego between 7 and 10 September 2022 (Hennen et al, American Heart Association's Hypertension Scientific Sessions 2022, Sept 7-10 2022, San Diego).
Hypertension and osteoporosis, is there a link?
If left untreated, hypertension can damage the heart and blood vessels in the long term. Osteoporosis weakens bones and can increase the risk of falls and fractures, worsening the quality of life. Often, hypertension and osteoporosis appear together. Is there a relationship between these two conditions? To answer this question, American scientists from Tennessee developed the research we are talking about today.
Hypertension ages bones, even when young
Scientists have performed a laboratory study on a population of mice. Part of this mouse population was made up of young specimens, with an age corresponding to our 20-30 years. In these mice, hypertension was induced for 6 weeks by providing a drug capable of increasing blood pressure. The other part of the study sample was made up of older mice, with an age corresponding to our 47-56 years, without hypertension. At the end of the 6 weeks, the mice underwent medical examinations and imaging techniques to assess the state of bone health. Well, what emerged was that the young mice with hypertension had a similar bone structure quality to that of older mice. In fact, being hypertensive had aged the bones of the young mice as if they were 25 years older. In particular, the bone volume of the young mice with hypertension was reduced by 24%, the sponge-like trabecular bone, the part of the bones that contains the bone marrow, decreased by 18% and also the ability of the bones to withstand forces and trauma decreased by 34%. The latter aspect results in weaker bones and when this occurs at the level of the spine then it can increase the risk of fracture of the vertebrae. Therefore, there is a link between hypertension and osteoporosis, with the former opening the door to the latter. But how can we explain what has been observed? American scientists have managed to explain this too. Analyzing the bone marrow of mice, it was found that pro-inflammatory immune cells had increased in young mice with hypertension. The point is, new bone is also formed in the bone marrow. Therefore, American scientists believe that this increase in inflammation, caused in young mice by hypertension and in the elderly by advancing age, has damaged the process of producing new bone, unbalancing it and leading to bone loss.
This result opens the way for new treatments to prevent osteoporosis. In the meantime, it is certainly important to keep your blood pressure under control, even when young, as today's health will determine the health of tomorrow, and to implement all the techniques, diet and lifestyle that can be protective against the blood pressure increase.