Blood pressure variability and microvascular dysfunction: the Maastricht Study

Tan Lai Zhou, Sytze P. Rensma, Frank C. T. van der Heide, Ronald M. A. Henry, Abraham A. Kroon, Alfons J. H. M. Houben, Jacobus F. A. Jansen, Walter H. Backes, Tos T. J. M. Berendschot, Jan S. A. G. Schouten, Martien C. J. M. van Dongen, Simone J. P. M. Eussen, Pieter C. Dagnelie, Carroll A. B. Webers, Miranda T. Schram, Casper G. Schalkwijk, Thomas T. van Sloten, Coen D.A. Stehouwer (Corresponding author)

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Microvascular dysfunction (MVD) contributes to stroke, dementia, depression, retinopathy and chronic kidney disease. However, the determinants of MVD are incompletely understood. Greater blood pressure variability (BPV) may be one such determinant.

Methods and results:
We used cross-sectional data of The Maastricht Study (n = 2773, age 59.9 years; 51.9% men) to investigate whether greater very short- to mid-term BPV is associated with various MVD measures. We standardized and averaged within-visit, 24-h and 7-day BPV into a systolic and a diastolic BPV composite score. MVD measures included a composite score of MRI cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD) features (total brain parenchymal volume, white matter hyperintensity volume, lacunar infarcts and cerebral microbleeds), a composite score of flicker light-induced retinal arteriolar and venular dilation response, albuminuria, heat-induced skin hyperemia and a composite score of plasma biomarkers of MVD (sICAM-1, sVCAM-1, sE-selectin and von Willebrand Factor). We used linear regression adjusted for age, sex, glucose metabolism status, mean 24-h systolic or DBP, cardiovascular risk factors and antihypertensive medication. We found that higher systolic and diastolic BPV composite scores (per SD) were associated with higher albuminuria [higher ratio, 1.04 (95% CI 1.00–1.08) and 1.07 (1.03–1.11), respectively], but not with other measures of MVD tested.

Greater systolic and diastolic BPV was associated with higher albuminuria, but not with CSVD features, flicker light-induced retinal arteriolar and venular dilation response, heat-induced skin hyperemia and plasma biomarkers of MVD. This suggests that the microvasculature of the kidneys is most vulnerable to the detrimental effects of greater BPV.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1541-1550
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hypertension
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • albuminuria
  • blood pressure
  • cardiovascular disease
  • cerebral small vessel diseases
  • cohort study
  • endothelium
  • epidemiology
  • imaging
  • magnetic resonance
  • nitric oxide
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus

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