Plasma bicarbonate and odds of incident hypertension

Am J Hypertens. 2013 Dec;26(12):1405-12. doi: 10.1093/ajh/hpt133. Epub 2013 Aug 13.


Background: Several biomarkers of metabolic acidosis, including lower plasma bicarbonate, have been associated with prevalent hypertension in cross-sectional studies. We sought to examine prospectively whether lower plasma bicarbonate is associated with incident hypertension.

Methods: We conducted a prospective case-control study nested within the Nurses' Health Study II. Plasma bicarbonate was measured in 695 nonobese women without hypertension at time of blood draw who subsequently developed hypertension during 6 years of follow-up. Control subjects were matched to case subjects according to age, race, time and day of blood draw, and day of menstrual cycle. We used unconditional logistic regression to generate odds ratios (ORs) for development of hypertension by quintile of baseline plasma bicarbonate.

Results: After adjusting for matching factors, body mass index, family history of hypertension, plasma creatinine, and dietary and lifestyle factors, higher plasma bicarbonate was associated with lower odds of developing hypertension across quintiles (P for linear trend = 0.04). Those in the highest compared with the lowest quintile of plasma bicarbonate had 31% lower odds of developing hypertension (OR = 0.69; 95% confidence interval = 0.48-0.99). Further adjustment for diet-estimated net endogenous acid production, plasma insulin, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and uric acid did not alter these findings.

Conclusions: Our case-control study is consistent with a modest association between higher plasma bicarbonate and reduced odds of developing hypertension among nonobese women, although our findings are of borderline statistical significance. Further research is required to confirm this finding as part of a larger prospective cohort study and to elucidate the mechanism for this relation.

Keywords: acidosis; bicarbonate; blood pressure; hypertension; risk factor; total CO2..

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicarbonates / blood*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • Buffers
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / blood*
  • Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies


  • Bicarbonates
  • Biomarkers
  • Buffers