Introduction: People with prehypertension that is systolic blood pressure (BP) over 120 mmHg or diastolic BP over 80 mmHg are known to be at increased risk for stroke compared to normotensive people. In addition to well-delineated impact of traditional risk factors such as hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, and obesity on the development of hypertension and stroke, recent research also suggests a need to examine further the relationship between psychological health factors such as stress and depression, and BP, and differences of these factors by gender in this population.
Objectives: This study was undertaken to investigate modifiable risk factors of stroke and psychological factors including stress and depression; to explore differences of these variables and their relationships by gender among community-residing adults with prehypertension.
Methods: A total of 103 participants aged 45.8 years old were recruited by a convenient sampling in two urban areas in South Korea. Along with BP and anthropometric measurement, trained interviewers interviewed participants with a structured questionnaire including demographic characteristics, lifestyle risk factors of stroke, stress measured by Korean version of Brief Encounter of Psychosocial Instrument, and depression measured by Korean version of Beck Depression Inventory. Data were analyzed using SPSS statistics 20.0
Results: Mean systolic BP of participants was 131.0 mmHg and mean diastolic BP, 80.3 mmHg. Sixty four percent of participants were men and they showed significantly higher diastolic BP, and higher prevalence of stroke risk factors including physical inactivity, high fat diet, currently smoking, and immoderate drinking, whereas stress and depression showed no significant gender differences in this population. Among men, depression showed significant negative correlation with both systolic and diastolic BP, predicting 10% of systolic BP and 6 % of diastolic BP. No significant relationship between these variables was found among women.
Conclusions: These results suggest the need to address gender differences of prevalence of stroke risk factors and relationships between psychological factor and BP for BP management among community-residing prehypertensive adults.