Send to

Choose Destination
J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011 Mar;59(3):390-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03282.x.

High blood pressure accelerates gait slowing in well-functioning older adults over 18-years of follow-up.

Author information

Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.



To examine whether the association between hypertension and decline in gait speed is significant in well-functioning older adults and whether other health-related factors, such as brain, kidney, and heart function, can explain it.


Longitudinal cohort study.


Cardiovascular Health Study.


Of 2,733 potential participants with a brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, measures of mobility and systolic blood pressure (BP), no self-reported disability in 1992 to 1994 (baseline), and with at least 1 follow-up gait speed measurement through 1997 to 1999, 643 (aged 73.6, 57% female, 15% black) who had received a second MRI in 1997 to 1999 and an additional gait speed measure in 2005 to 2006 were included.


Mixed models with random slopes and intercepts were adjusted for age, race, and sex. Main explanatory factors included white matter hyperintensity progression, baseline cystatin-C, and left cardiac ventricular mass. Incidence of stroke and dementia, BP trajectories, and intake of antihypertensive medications during follow-up were tested as other potential explanatory factors.


Higher systolic BP was associated with faster rate of gait speed decline in this selected group of 643 participants, and results were similar in the parent cohort (N = 2,733). Participants with high BP (n = 293) had a significantly faster rate of gait speed decline than those with baseline BP less than 140/90 mmHg and no history of hypertension (n = 350). Rates were similar for those with history of hypertension who were uncontrolled (n = 110) or controlled (n = 87) at baseline and for those who were newly diagnosed (n = 96) at baseline. Adjustment for explanatory factors or for other covariates (education, prevalent cardiovascular disease, physical activity, vision, mood, cognition, muscle strength, body mass index, osteoporosis) did not change the results.


High BP accelerates gait slowing in well-functioning older adults over a long period of time, even for those who control their BP or develop hypertension later in life. Health-related measurements did not explain these associations. Future studies to investigate the mechanisms linking hypertension to slowing gait in older adults are warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Publication types, MeSH terms, Substance, Grant support

Publication types

MeSH terms


Grant support

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center