Background: The relationship between inflammation and blood pressure (BP) has been studied mainly in the general population. In this study, we examined the association between inflammation and BP across a broader range of inflammation observed in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and non-RA outpatients.
Methods: We studied subjects from a tertiary care outpatient population with C-reactive protein (CRP) and BP measured on the same date in 2009-2010; RA outpatients were identified using a validated algorithm. General population data were obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) as comparison. To study the cross-sectional association between CRP and BP in the three groups, we constructed a generalized additive model. Longitudinal association between CRP and BP was examined using a repeated-measures linear mixed-effects model in RA outpatients with significant change in inflammation at two consecutive time points.
Results: We studied 24,325 subjects from the outpatient population, of whom 1811 had RA, and 5561 were from NHANES. In RA outpatients, we observed a positive relationship between CRP and systolic BP (SBP) at CRP < 6 mg/L and an inverse association at CRP ≥ 6 mg/L. A similar inverse U-shaped relationship was observed in non-RA outpatients. In NHANES, we observed a positive relationship between CRP and SBP as demonstrated by previous studies. Longitudinal analysis in RA showed that every 10 mg/L increase in CRP was associated with a 0.38 mmHg reduction in SBP.
Conclusions: Across a broad range of CRP observed in RA and non-RA outpatients, we found an inverse U-shaped relationship between CRP and SBP, highlighting a relationship not previously observed when studying the general population.
Keywords: Blood pressure; Inflammation; Rheumatoid arthritis.