Stressful Life Events are Associated With Impaired Blood Pressure Recovery After Standing in a Sample of Community Dwelling Older Adults
1Trinity College Dublin, The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, Ireland
Background: The majority of the literature on stress and blood pressure (BP) is concerned with increased risk of morbidity or mortality from cardiac events. As the sympathetic nervous system is also critical to the maintenance of orthostatic BP, we hypothesise that exposure to life stressors may alter BP regulation such that older adults who have experienced more stressful life events (SLEs) are more likely to show impaired recovery of BP in response to orthostatic stress. Methods: Data were collected during the first wave of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), which took place between 2009 and 2011. Exposure to SLEs was ascertained via self-completion questionnaire. Orthostatic BP was measured using beat-to-beat digital plethysmography. 3,765 participants aged 50 and over completed both measures and thus were included in the current analysis. Findings: Adjusting for confounders, there was a dose-response relationship between the number of SLEs reported and the odds of impaired systolic BP recovery after standing (1 event: OR= 1.22, p <.05; 2 events: OR = 1.32, p <.05; 3 or more events: 1.61, p < .001). Discussion: This study is unique in being the first of its size to investigate the relationship between stress and orthostatic BP behaviour using beat-to-beat measurement. Follow-up is required to determine the clinical prognostic value of the observed association.