The Possible Significance of Low Blood Pressures Observed in Guatemalans and in Yucatecans

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  • Department of Tropical Medicine of the Harvard School of Public Health
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Systolic blood-pressures have been recorded for the two races of Guatemala; namely, the mixed Spanish-Indian and the pure Indian. The data have been compared with normal standards for North Americans at home, with similar data from Yucatan, and with blood-pressure levels from various other countries and various other races.

It was thus determined that Guatemalan systolic blood-pressure levels average about 10 mm. lower than those of North Americans living in the United States of America and that the levels for Yucatecans occupy an intermediate position.

The data were then discussed with reference to the possible influences of age, sex, race, weight and height, psychogenic influences, nutrition and diet, climate, season, and altitude. It is extremely difficult to evaluate the possible effects of so many variables. The following inferences were, therefore, drawn tentatively.

The low systolic blood-pressures in Guatemala and in Yucatan seem to be more characteristic of the Indian population than of the Spanish-Indian mixed race. The low pressures seem not to be attributable to sex, weight or height, season or altitude, and perhaps not to climate.

The low levels of systolic pressure may perhaps be caused by racial characteristics, slow tempo of life, and a possibly deficient diet.

Data on diastolic pressure and on pulse-pressures have been presented. These indicate that diastolic pressures are nearer the standards for Americans in the United States of America than are the systolic pressures; the pulse-pressures tend to be correspondingly low.