Blood Pressure Drugs May Improve Fitness in the Elderly

Published Online: Monday, April 1, 2002

Giving blood pressure drugs for patients who do not have hypertension may seem to be an unusual suggestion, but that?s exactly what researchers at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, have been exploring. Their findings, published in Lancet, indicate that angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors can decrease the long-term decline in physical function in elderly women who do not have congestive heart failure, the condition for which angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors are usually prescribed.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors help prevent and lower high blood pressure by blocking the enzyme that causes blood vessels to constrict. Whether the results are directly related to this effect isn?t completely clear. However, in their study of more than 640 elderly women?average age, 79?the researchers found that those who continuously used angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors had less muscle decline and an increased ability to walk faster than did women who had used such drugs occasionally or not at all.

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