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Hypertension Increases With Aging and Obesity in Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)


  • Grant sponsor: NIH; Grant number: HHSN268201100065C.

Correspondence to: John J. Ely, Alamogordo Primate Facility/Charles River Labs Bldg. 1303, P.O. Box 956, Holloman AFB, NM 88330-0956. E-mail:


Cardiovascular disease is a primary cause of morbidity and mortality in captive chimpanzees. Four years of blood pressure (BP) data were analyzed from a captive former laboratory population of 201 healthy adult chimpanzees with assessment of age and obesity on elevated BP. Five different measures of obesity were compared: abdominal girth, basal metabolic rate, body-mass index (BMI), body weight, and surface area. Systolic BP varied by sex. Obesity did not influence male BP. For females, obesity was a significant determinant of BP. The best measure of female obesity was basal metabolic rate and the worst was BMI. Median systolic BP of healthy weight females (<54.5 kg) was significantly lower (128 mmHg) than overweight or obese females (140 mmHg), but both were lower than all males (147 mmHg). For diastolic BP, neither sex nor any of the five obesity measures was significant. But age was highly significant, with geriatric chimpanzees (>30 years) having higher median diastolic BP (74 mmHg) than young adults of 10–29 years of age (65 mmHg). By these criteria, 80% of this population is normotensive, 7% prehypertensive, and 13% hypertensive. In summary, systolic BP intervals required adjustment for obesity among females but not males. Diastolic BP required adjustment for advanced age (≥30 years). Use of these reference intervals can facilitate timely clinical care of captive chimpanzees. Zoo Biol. 32:79-87, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.