Association Between Short-Term Systolic Blood Pressure Variability and Carotid Intima-Media Thickness in ELSA-Brasil Baseline

Am J Hypertens. 2017 Oct 1;30(10):954-960. doi: 10.1093/ajh/hpx076.


Background: Blood pressure (BP) is associated with carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), but few studies have explored the association between BP variability and CIMT. We aimed to investigate this association in the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil) baseline.

Methods: We analyzed data from 7,215 participants (56.0% women) without overt cardiovascular disease (CVD) or antihypertensive use. We included 10 BP readings in varying positions during a 6-hour visit. We defined BP variability as the SD of these readings. We performed a 2-step analysis. We first linearly regressed the CIMT values on main and all-order interaction effects of the variables age, sex, body mass index, race, diabetes diagnosis, dyslipidemia diagnosis, family history of premature CVD, smoking status, and ELSA-Brasil site, and calculated the residuals (residual CIMT). We used partial least square path analysis to investigate whether residual CIMT was associated with BP central tendency and BP variability.

Results: Systolic BP (SBP) variability was significantly associated with residual CIMT in models including the entire sample (path coefficient [PC]: 0.046; P < 0.001), and in women (PC: 0.046; P = 0.007) but not in men (PC: 0.037; P = 0.09). This loss of significance was probably due to the smaller subsample size, as PCs were not significantly different according to sex.

Conclusions: We found a small but significant association between SBP variability and CIMT values. This was additive to the association between SBP central tendency and CIMT values, supporting a role for high short-term SBP variability in atherosclerosis.

Keywords: atherosclerosis; blood pressure; blood pressure variation; cross-sectional; hypertension; intima-media thickness; partial least square path analysis; structural equation modeling.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure Determination
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / epidemiology
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / physiopathology
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors