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Day/night variability in blood pressure: influence of posture and physical activity.

Am J Hypertens. 2013 Jun;26(6):822-8. doi: 10.1093/ajh/hpt026 Morris CJ, Hastings JA, Boyd K, Krainski F, Perhonen MA, Scheer FA, Levine BD. Medical Chronobiology Program, Division of Sleep Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

BACKGROUND: Blood pressure (BP) is highest during the day and lowest at night. Absence of this rhythm is a predictor of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Contributions of changes in posture and physical activity to the 24-hour day/night rhythm in BP are not well understood. We hypothesized that postural changes and physical activity contribute substantially to the day/night rhythm in BP. METHODS: Fourteen healthy, sedentary, nonobese, normotensive men (aged 19-50 years) each completed an ambulatory and a bed rest condition during which BP was measured every 30-60 minutes for 24 hours. When ambulatory, subjects followed their usual routines without restrictions to capture the "normal" condition. During bed rest, subjects were constantly confined to bed in a 6-degree head-down position; therefore posture was constant, and physical activity was minimized. Two subjects were excluded from analysis because of irregular sleep timing. RESULTS: The systolic and diastolic BP reduction during the sleep period was similar in ambulatory (-11±2mmHg/-8±1mmHg) and bed rest conditions (-8±3mmHg/-4±2mmHg; P = 0.38/P = 0.12). The morning surge in diastolic BP was attenuated during bed rest (P = 0.001), and there was a statistical trend for the same effect in systolic BP (P = 0.06). CONCLUSIONS: A substantial proportion of the 24-hour BP rhythm remained during bed rest, indicating that typical daily changes in posture and/or physical activity do not entirely explain 24-hour BP variation under normal ambulatory conditions. However, the morning BP increase was attenuated during bed rest, suggesting that the adoption of an upright posture and/or physical activity in the morning contributes to the morning BP surge.

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