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Am J Physiol. 1999 Sep;277(3 Pt 2):H947-55.

Lack of age-associated elevations in 24-h systolic and pulse pressures in women who exercise regularly.

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  • 1Human Cardiovascular Research Laboratory, Center for Physical Activity, Disease Prevention, and Aging, Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA. seals@spot.colorado.edu


We tested the hypothesis that the elevations in 24-h arterial systolic (SBP) and pulse (PP) pressures with age in sedentary adult females are absent or smaller in women who exercise regularly. Four groups of healthy normotensive women were studied: premenopausal (n = 12; 29 +/- 1 yr, mean +/- SE) and postmenopausal (n = 20; 62 +/- 1) sedentary, and premenopausal (n = 14; 30 +/- 1) and postmenopausal (n = 12; 58 +/- 1) endurance-exercise trained (distance runners). In the sedentary group, 24-h SBP and PP (Spacelabs ambulatory monitor 90207) were approximately 10 mmHg higher (P < 0.05) in the postmenopausal women than in the premenopausal controls; this was because of higher daytime and nighttime SBP and PP levels in the postmenopausal women. In contrast, 24-h, daytime and nighttime SBP and PP were not different with age in the endurance-trained women. SBP variability and SBP load (% of all recordings > 140 mmHg) generally were greater with age in the sedentary women (e.g., SBP load = 14 +/- 4 vs. 3 +/- 1%, P < 0.05) but not in the endurance-trained women. In the pooled population, 24-h SBP and PP were related to waist-to-hip ratio (measure of abdominal adiposity) (r = 0.48 and 0.49, respectively, P < 0.001) and carotid augmentation index (measure of arterial stiffness) (r = 0.43 and 0.53, P < 0.005). In the sedentary women, accounting for the influence of either of these factors eliminated the significant age-associated differences in 24-h SBP and PP (P > 0.3). Our results suggest that the elevations in 24-h SBP and PP with age in sedentary adult females may not occur in women who regularly perform endurance exercise. This appears to be related to the absence of age-associated increases in abdominal adiposity and arterial stiffness in the exercising women.

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