Mid- to Late-Life Trajectories of Blood Pressure and the Risk of Stroke
The Rotterdam Study
Hypertension is a major modifiable risk factor for stroke. Associations of blood pressure with incident stroke are mostly based on single or average blood pressure levels. However, this approach does not take into account long-term trajectories of blood pressure, which can vary considerably in the elderly. Within the population-based Rotterdam Study, we examined trajectories of systolic blood pressure in 6745 participants (60.0% women) over an age-range from 55 to 106 years and jointly modeled their risk of stroke and competing causes of death using joint latent class mixed modeling. Four trajectories were identified. Class 1 was characterized by blood pressure increasing gradually from on average 120 to 160 mm Hg over 5 decades (n=4938). Compared with this class, class 2, characterized by a similar midlife blood pressure, but a steep increase (n=822, increasing from 120 to 200 mm Hg), and class 4, characterized by a high midlife blood pressure (n=115; average 160 mm Hg) and had a higher risk of stroke and death. Class 3, characterized by a moderate midlife blood pressure (n=870; average 140 mm Hg), had a similar risk of death as class 1, but the highest risk of stroke. Assessing trajectories of blood pressure provides a more nuanced understanding of the associations between blood pressure, stroke, and mortality. In particular, high blood pressure and rapidly increasing blood pressure patterns are associated with a high risk of stroke and death, whereas moderately high blood pressure is only related to an increased risk of stroke. Future studies should explore the potential pathogenic significance of these patterns.
- Received January 4, 2016.
- Revision received January 16, 2016.
- Accepted March 29, 2016.
- © 2016 American Heart Association, Inc.