Cardiovascular reactivity to stress is hypothesized to be a marker for subsequent neurogenic cardiovascular disease, but few prospective studies of this hypothesis are available. We studied 910 white male medical students who had their blood pressure and pulse rate measured before and during a cold pressor test in the years 1948-1964. Hypertensive status (requiring drug treatment) was ascertained by annual questionnaires in to 20- to 36-year follow-up period. An association was observed between maximum change in systolic blood pressure and later hypertension, with a cumulative incidence of hypertension by age 44 of 6.7%, 3.0%, and 2.4% for a change in systolic blood pressure in the upper, middle two, and lowest quartiles, respectively (Kaplan-Meier, p<0.02). After adjustment for study entry age, Quetelet Index, cigarette smoking, pretest systolic blood pressure, and paternal or maternal history of hypertension in a Cox model, the association persisted. The excess risk associated with systolic blood pressure reactivity was not apparent until the population aged some 20 years and was most apparent among those in whom hypertension developed before age 45 (relative risk=2.5, 95% confidence intervals=1.47, 4.71 for a 20 mm Hg change). Diastolic blood pressure and heart rate changes were not associated with later hypertension. These data suggest that persons prone to later hypertension manifest an altered physiology at a young age.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine