Step Count is Associated With Lower Nighttime Systolic Blood Pressure and Increased Dipping

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Higher nighttime blood pressure (BP) and the loss of nocturnal dipping of BP are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular events. However, the determinants of the loss of nocturnal BP dipping are only beginning to be understood. We investigated whether different indicators of physical activity were associated with the loss of nocturnal dipping of BP.

METHODS

We conducted a cross-sectional study of 103 patients referred for 24-hour ambulatory monitoring of BP. We measured these patients’ step count (SC), active energy expenditure (AEE), and total energy expenditure simultaneously, using actigraphs.

RESULTS

In our study population of 103 patients, most of whom were hypertensive, SC and AEE were associated with nighttime systolic BP in univariate (SC, r = –0.28, P < 0.01; AEE, r = –0.20, P = 0.046) and multivariate linear regression analyses (SC, coefficient beta = –5.37, P < 0.001; AEE, coefficient beta = –0.24, P < 0.01). Step count was associated with both systolic (r = 0.23, P = 0.018) and diastolic (r = 0.20, P = 0.045) BP dipping. Nighttime systolic BP decreased progressively across the categories of sedentary, moderately active, and active participants (125mm Hg, 116mm Hg, 112mm Hg, respectively; P = 0.002). The degree of BP dipping of BP increased progressively across the same three categories of activity (respectively 8.9%, 14.6%, and 18.6%, P = 0.002, for systolic BP and respectively 12.8%, 18.1%, and 22.2%, P = 0.006, for diastolic BP).

CONCLUSIONS

Step count is continuously associated with nighttime systolic BP and with the degree of BP dipping independently of 24-hour mean BP. The combined use of an actigraph for measuring indicators of physical activity and a device for 24-hour measurement of ambulatory BP may help identify patients at increased risk for cardiovascular events in whom increased physical activity toward higher target levels may be recommended.

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