Objective: The aim of this study was to define the relationship between physical activity and the magnitude of the percentage fall in blood pressure at night (nocturnal dip).
Methods: We simultaneously monitored 24-h ambulatory blood pressure and measured physical activity by actigraphy in 434 patients. Blood pressure was measured every 20 min; the actigraph integrated an activity score every 10 s. Mean daytime and night-time activity were calculated from mean scores for the 15 min preceding each blood pressure measurement. Nocturnal dip in systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP and DBP) were regressed on mean (log-transformed) daytime activity. Mean night-time activity, age, gender, smoking status, body mass index (BMI) and clinic blood pressure were added into a multiple linear regression.
Results: The patient group was heterogeneous in age, gender and mean 24-h blood pressure. Mean daytime activity level was significantly and positively associated with the magnitude of the nocturnal dip in both SBP and DBP. Increased night-time activity was significantly associated with a smaller nocturnal dip. Older patients had a smaller nocturnal dip per log unit daytime activity. Nocturnal dip in SBP was greater in males, and smaller in those taking antihypertensive medications. Smoking, BMI and clinical blood pressure level were not associated with the extent of the nocturnal dip after adjustment for other factors.
Conclusions: Daytime and night-time physical activity levels are independently and significantly predictive of the magnitude of the nocturnal dip in blood pressure. Variation in activity may confound interpretation of 24-h ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, and contribute to the poor reproducibility of dipper status.