Blood pressure tracking over the adult life course: Patterns and correlates in the framingham heart study

Susan Cheng, Vanessa Xanthakis, Lisa M. Sullivan, Ramachandran S. Vasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


The extent to which select vascular risk factors differentially influence blood pressure (BP) is incompletely understood. Thus, we used multilevel modeling to analyze serial BP measurements using 21 732 person-observations obtained on Framingham Heart Study participants (mean age, 38 years, 52% women; 4993 unique individuals) over a 28-year period. We related longitudinal tracking of each BP measure (systolic BP, diastolic BP, mean arterial pressure, and pulse pressure) to age, sex, body mass index, smoking, diabetes mellitus, total/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio, and heart rate. In multivariable-adjusted analyses, we observed that older age, male sex, greater body mass index, and higher heart rate were positively associated with increase in all BP measures (P<0.0001). Notably, higher total/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio was associated with greater mean arterial pressure (P<0.01). Conversely, diabetes mellitus and smoking were associated with higher pulse pressure (P<0.01). We also observed effect modification by sex: the increase in pulse pressure with age and body mass index was more pronounced in women compared with men (P<0.0001). All BP measures tracked at higher levels in both men and women with multiple vascular risk factors. Taken together, our longitudinal observations in a large community-based sample demonstrate a greater pulsatile load in women than in men with increasing age. We also observed a differential impact of select vascular risk factors on the individual components of BP, underscoring distinct regulation of these measures over the life course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1393-1399
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • aging
  • blood pressure
  • epidemiology
  • hypertension
  • risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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