Effects of age and functional status on the relationship of systolic blood pressure with mortality in mid and late life: The aric study

B. Gwen Windham, Michael E. Griswold, Seth Lirette, Anna Kucharska-Newton, Randi E. Foraker, Wayne Rosamond, Josef Coresh, Stephen Kritchevsky, Thomas H. Mosley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Impaired functional status attenuates the relationship of systolic blood pressure (SBP) with mortality in older adults but has not been studied in middle-aged populations. Method: Among 10,264 stroke-free Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities participants (mean age 62.8 [5.7] years; 6,349 [62%] younger [<65 years]; 5,148 [50%] men; 2,664 [26%] Black), function was defined as good function (GF) for those self-reporting no difficulty performing functional tasks and basic or instrumental tasks of daily living; all others were defined as impaired function (IF). SBP categories were normal (<120 mmHg), prehypertension (120-139 mmHg), and hypertension (?140 mmHg). Mortality risk associated with SBP was estimated using adjusted Cox proportional hazard models with a triple interaction between age, functional status, and SBP. Results: Mean follow-up was 12.9 years with 2,863 (28%) deaths. Among younger participants, 3,017 (48%) had IF; 2,279 of 3,915 (58%) older participants had IF. Prehypertension (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.48 [1.03, 2.15] p = .04) and hypertension (HR = 1.97 [1.29, 3.03] p = .002) were associated with mortality in younger GF and older (?65 years) GF participants (prehypertension HR = 1.21 [1.06, 1.37] p = .005; hypertension HR = 1.47 [1.36, 1.59] p < .001). Among IF participants, prehypertension was not associated with mortality in younger participants (HR = 0.99 [0.85, 1.15] p = .93) and was protective in older participants (HR = 0.87 [0.85, 0.90] p < .001). Hypertension was associated with mortality in younger IF participants (HR = 1.54 [1.30, 1.82] p < .001) but not in older IF participants (HR = 0.99 [0.87, 1.14] p = .93). Conclusions: Compared with younger and well-functioning persons, the additional contribution of blood pressure to mortality is much lower with older age and impaired function, particularly if both are present. Functional status and age could potentially inform optimal blood pressure targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-94
Number of pages6
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (HHSN268201100005C, HSN268201100006C, HHSN268201100007C, HHSN268201100008C, HHSN268201100009C, HHSN268201100010C, HHSN268201100011C, HHSN268201100 012C).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2015.


  • Blood pressure
  • Functional status
  • Middle aged
  • Mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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