SEP 12, 2022 9:25 AM PDT

High Blood Pressure Weakens Bone Structure and Can Lead to Osteoporosis

WRITTEN BY: Zoe Michaud

High blood pressure is a condition that occurs when blood flows through the arteries with more pressure than normal. High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) can be a result of age, genetics, or lifestyle habits such as an unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, or overconsumption of alcohol or caffeine. 

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to serious health problems such as stroke, heart failure, eye damage, vascular dementia, or death. Since high blood pressure typically does not cause minor symptoms, it is important to have regular blood pressure readings taken to prevent serious issues before they occur.

Research presented at the American Heart Association Meeting in September highlights another possible serious complication of high blood pressure: bone loss and osteoporosis-related bone damage. The researchers induced high blood pressure in mice to study the effects on their bones. By inducing high blood pressure in young mice, the researchers observed that their bone loss and bone damage was comparable to older mice experiencing osteoporosis. 

The researchers hypothesize that this bone damage is a result of an increase in pro-inflammatory immune cells that accompany hypertension in the bone marrow. Young mice induced with hypertension had a 24% reduction in bone volume. These changes result in weaker bones and  can result in bone fractures later in life. 

One implication of this research is that hypertension may be linked to bone loss. It is important to detect and treat high blood pressure early to prevent impacts on health, including the potential impact on bone quality. The researchers emphasize that since this study was performed on mice, additional research is needed to determine whether a similar trend exists in humans. 

Lead study author Elizabeth Maria Hennen adds that “by understanding how hypertension contributes to osteoporosis, we may be able to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and better protect people later in life from having fragility fractures and a lower quality of life.”

Sources: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, American Heart Association

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Zoe (she/her) is a science writer and a scientist working in genomics. She received her B.S. from the University of Connecticut with a focus in Evolutionary Biology. At Labroots, she focuses on writing scientific content related to clinical research and diagnostics.
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