Objective: To test the hypothesis that symptoms of anxiety and depression increase the risk of experiencing hypertension, using the National Health and Nutrition Examination I Epidemiologic Follow-up Study.
Design: A cohort of men and women without evidence of hypertension at baseline were followed up for 7 to 16 years. The association between 2 outcome measures (hypertension and treated hypertension) and baseline anxiety and depression was analyzed using Cox proportional hazards regression adjusting for hypertension risk factors (age; sex; education; cigarette smoking; body mass index; alcohol use; history of diabetes, stroke, or coronary heart disease; and baseline systolic blood pressure). Analyses were stratified by race and age (white persons aged 25-44 years and 45-64 years and black persons aged 25-64 years).
Setting: General community.
Participants: A population-based sample of 2992 initially normotensive persons.
Main outcome measures: Incident hypertension was defined as blood pressure of 160/95 mm Hg or more, or prescription of antihypertensive medications. Treated hypertension was defined as prescription of antihypertensive medications.
Results: In the multivariate models for whites aged 45 to 64 years, high anxiety (relative risk [RR], 1.82; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.30-2.53) and high depression (RR, 1.80; 95% CI, 1.16-2.78) remained independent predictors of incident hypertension. The risks associated with treated hypertension were also increased for high anxiety (RR, 2.36; 95% CI, 1.73-3.23) and high depression (RR, 1.89; 95% CI, 1.25-2.85). For blacks aged 25 to 64 years, high anxiety (RR, 2.74; 95% CI, 1.35-5.53) and high depression (RR, 2.99; 95% CI, 1.41-6.33) remained independent predictors of incident hypertension. The risks associated with treated hypertension were also increased for high anxiety (RR, 3.24; 95% CI, 1.59-6.61) and high depression (RR, 2.92; 95% CI, 1.37-6.22). For whites aged 25 to 44 years, intermediate anxiety (RR, 1.62; 95% CI, 1.18-2.22) and intermediate depression (RR, 1.60; 95% CI, 1.17-2.17) remained independent predictors of treated hypertension only.
Conclusion: Anxiety and depression are predictive of later incidence of hypertension and prescription treatment for hypertension.