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Introduction: Like heart rate, blood pressure (BP) is not steady but varies over intervals as long as months to as short as consecutive cardiac cycles. This blood pressure variability (BPV) consists of regularly occurring oscillations as well as less well-organized changes and typically is computed as the standard deviation of multiple clinic visit-to-visit (VVV-BP) measures or from 24-h ambulatory BP recordings (ABPV). BP also varies on a beat-to-beat basis, quantified by methods that parse variation into discrete bins, e.g., low frequency (0.04–0.15 Hz, LF). However, beat-to-beat BPV requires continuous recordings that are not easily acquired. As a result, we know little about the relationship between LF-BPV and basic sociodemographic characteristics such as age, sex, and race and clinical conditions.

Methods: We computed LF-BPV during an 11-min resting period in 2,118 participants in the Midlife in the US (MIDUS) study.

Results: LF-BPV was negatively associated with age, greater in men than women, and unrelated to race or socioeconomic status. It was greater in participants with hypertension but unrelated to hyperlipidemia, hypertriglyceridemia, diabetes, elevated CRP, or obesity. LF-diastolic BPV (DBPV), but not-systolic BPV (SBPV), was negatively correlated with IL-6 and s-ICAM and positively correlated with urinary epinephrine and cortisol. Finally, LF-DBPV was negatively associated with mortality, an effect was rendered nonsignificant by adjustment by age but not other sociodemographic characteristics.

Discussion: These findings, the first from a large, national sample, suggest that LF-BPV differs significantly from VVV-BP and ABPV. Confirming its relationship to sociodemographic risk factors and clinical outcomes requires further study with large and representative samples.


This article was originally published in Frontiers in Physiology in 2023.


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