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Research Article

Nature or nurture; BMI and blood pressure at 90. Findings from the Belfast Elderly Longitudinal Free-living Aging STudy (BELFAST)


Hypertension is a key risk factor for stroke, cardiovascular disease and dementia. Although the link between weight, sodium and hypertension is established in younger people, little is known about their inter-relationship in people beyond 80 years of age. Associations between blood pressure, anthropometric indices and sodium were investigated in 495 apparently healthy, community-living participants (age 90, SD 4.8; range 80–106), from the cross-sectional Belfast Elderly Longitudinal Free-living Aging STudy (BELFAST) study. In age-sex-adjusted logistic regression models, blood pressure ≥140/90 mmHg significantly associated with body mass index (BMI) [odds ratio (OR) = 1.28/ kg/m2], with weight (OR = 1.22/kg) approaching significance (P = 0.07). In further age-sex-adjusted models, blood pressure above the 120/80 mmHg normotensive reference value significantly associated with BMI (OR = 1.44/kg/m2), weight (OR = 1.36/kg), skin-fold-thickness (OR = 1.33/mm) and serum sodium (OR = 1.37 mmol/l). In BELFAST participants over 80 years old, blood pressure ≥140/90 mmHg is associated with BMI, in apparently similar ways to younger groups.