Decreased slow wave sleep increases risk of developing hypertension in elderly men

Hypertension. 2011 Oct;58(4):596-603. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.111.174409. Epub 2011 Aug 29.


The importance of sleep to health and cardiovascular disease has become increasingly apparent. Sleep-disordered breathing, sleep duration, and sleep architecture may all influence metabolism and neurohormonal systems, yet no previous study has evaluated these sleep characteristics concurrently in relation to incident hypertension. Our objective was to determine whether incident hypertension is associated with polysomnography measures of sleep-disordered breathing, sleep duration, and sleep architecture in older men. Participants were 784 community-dwelling, ambulatory men ≥65 years of age (mean age: 75.1±4.9 years) from the Outcomes of Sleep Disorders in Older Men Study who did not have hypertension at the time of their in-home polysomnography sleep studies (2003-2005) and who returned for follow-up (2007-2009). Of 784 older men included in this report, 243 met criteria for incident hypertension after a mean follow-up of 3.4 years. In unadjusted analyses, incident hypertension was associated with increased hypoxemia, increased sleep stages N1 and N2, and decreased stage N3 (slow wave sleep [SWS]). After adjustment for age, nonwhite race, study site, and body mass index, the only sleep index to remain significantly associated with incident hypertension was SWS percentage (odds ratio for lowest to highest quartile of SWS: 1.83 [95% CI: 1.18 to 2.85]). No attenuation of this association was seen after accounting for sleep duration, sleep fragmentation, and indices of sleep-disordered breathing. Percentage time in SWS was inversely associated with incident hypertension, independent of sleep duration and fragmentation, and sleep-disordered breathing. Selective deprivation of SWS may contribute to adverse blood pressure in older men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Polysomnography
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / epidemiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / complications*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology*

Grant support