Age-associated changes in blood pressure in a longitudinal study of healthy men and women

Jay D. Pearson, Christopher H. Morrell, Larry J. Brant, Patricia K. Landis, Jerome L. Fleg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Background. Current knowledge of age-associated increases in blood pressure is based primarily on unscreened population studies that may not be representative of healthy men and women. We examined longitudinal patterns of change in blood pressure in healthy male and female volunteers from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA). Methods. Longitudinal mixed- effects regression models are used to estimate the age-associated changes in blood pressure in 1307 men (age 17-97) and 333 women (age 18-93) who have been followed for up to 32 years (mean: 8.4 years for men and 3.4 years for women) and who have been screened for health problems or medications that affect blood pressure. Results. On average, systolic pressure is relatively stable in men and women until approximately age 45, increases at 5-8 mm Hg per decade in middle age, then accelerates in men and stabilizes in women. Diastolic pressure increases at 1 mm Hg per decade at all ages in men, whereas in women the rate of change in diastolic pressure increases in middle age and then plateaus and may decline after age 70. Additional findings include: (a) BLSA cross-sectional and longitudinal findings are more similar than has been observed in studies of unscreened samples; (b) there is no evidence of a gender cross-over in this group of healthy men and women; and (c) compared to previous studies of unscreened samples, healthy BLSA men and women show a weaker association between baseline blood pressure and subsequent rate of blood pressure change. Conclusions. These findings suggest that several previously described age-associated patterns of blood pressure change partially reflect the effects of hypertension and its treatment, rather than intrinsic age changes in the blood pressure of healthy individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)M177-M183
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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