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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2012 Sep;67(9):977-83. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glr245. Epub 2012 Mar 1.

The association of blood pressure and mortality differs by self-reported walking speed in older Latinos.

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  • 1Epidemiology, School of Biological and Population Health Sciences, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.



In some older adults, higher blood pressure (BP) is associated with a lower risk of mortality. We hypothesized that higher BP would be associated with greater mortality in high-functioning elders and lower mortality in elders with lower functional status.


Participants were 1,562 Latino adults aged 60-101 years in the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging. Functional status was measured by self-reported walking speed, and BP was measured by automatic sphygmomanometer. Death information was determined from vital statistics records.


There were 442 deaths from 1998 to 2010; 53% were cardiovascular. Mean BP levels (mmHg) varied across fast, medium, and slow walkers: 136, 139, and 140 mmHg (systolic), p = .02 and 75, 76, and 77 mmHg (diastolic), p = .08, respectively. The relationship between systolic BP and mortality varied by self-reported walking speed: The adjusted hazard ratio for mortality in slow walkers was 0.96 per 10 mmHg higher systolic BP (95% confidence interval: 0.89, 1.02) and 1.29 (95% confidence interval: 1.08, 1.55) in fast walkers (p value for interaction <.001). We found a similar pattern for diastolic BP, although the interaction did not reach statistical significance; the adjusted hazard ratio per 10 mmHg higher diastolic BP was 0.89 (95% confidence interval: 0.78, 1.02) in slow walkers and 1.20 (95% confidence interval: 0.82, 1.76) in fast walkers (p value for interaction = .06).


In high-functioning older adults, elevated systolic BP is a risk factor for all-cause mortality. If confirmed in other studies, the assessment of functional status may help to identify persons who are most at-risk for adverse outcomes related to high BP.

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