Visit-To-Visit Blood Pressure Variability and Subthreshold Depressive Symptoms in Older Adults

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2022 Oct;30(10):1110-1119. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2022.03.006. Epub 2022 Apr 3.


Objectives: Depression is related to increased risk for dementia, possibly through links with cerebrovascular disease. Blood pressure variability is an emerging risk factor for cerebrovascular disease and dementia, but relationships with affective symptoms remain understudied.

Design: Retrospective analysis of prospective cohort study.

Setting: Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.

Participants: 505 older adults without history of dementia or recent depression underwent three to four blood pressure measurements over 12 months and completed a self-report measure of depressive symptoms (Geriatric Depression Scale - 15 Item) at study baseline and 24-months follow-up.

Measurements: Blood pressure variability was calculated as variability independent of mean and maximum minus minimum. Regression models investigated relationships between blood pressure variability and severity of self-reported depressive symptoms at 24-months follow-up after controlling for several variables, including average blood pressure, antihypertensive use, antidepressant use, and baseline depressive symptom severity.

Results: Elevated diastolic blood pressure variability was related to greater total depressive symptom score at follow-up (ß = .16 [95% CI 0.02, .30]; p = 0.03), with specific contribution from increased severity of symptoms of dysphoria (odds ratio = 1.35 [95% CI 1.07, 1.75]; p = 0.02). Blood pressure variability was not significantly related to other symptom subscales, including those reflecting life satisfaction or withdrawal.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that elevated diastolic blood pressure variability is related to subthreshold depressive symptomatology in older adults without history of dementia or recent depression, independent of average blood pressure. Blood pressure variability may be an understudied vascular risk factor linked with depression and cognitive impairment, with potential therapeutic implications.

Keywords: Blood pressure variability; aging; subthreshold depression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies