Systemic hemodynamic determinants of blood pressure in women: age, physical activity, and hormone replacement.
We tested the hypothesis that the age-related changes in systemic hemodynamic determinants of arterial blood pressure in healthy women are related to physical activity and hormone replacement status. We studied 66 healthy, normotensive premenopausal (21-35 yr) and postmenopausal (50-72 yr) sedentary and endurance-trained women under supine resting conditions. Mean blood pressure was 7 mmHg higher in sedentary post- compared with premenopausal women, which was associated with an 11-mmHg higher systolic blood pressure, a 25% lower stroke volume and cardiac output, and a 50% higher systemic vascular resistance (all P < 0.05). Absolute (ml) levels of total blood volume did not differ across age, but resting oxygen consumption was approximately 35% lower in the postmenopausal women (P < 0.05). The elevations in mean and systolic blood pressures with age were similar in endurance-trained runners, but, in contrast to the sedentary women, the elevations were not associated with significant age-related differences in cardiac output, stroke volume, or oxygen consumption, and only a modest (15%) increase in systemic vascular resistance (P = 0.06). Postmenopausal swimmers demonstrated the same systemic hemodynamic profile as that of postmenopausal runners, indicating a nonspecific influence of the endurance-trained state. Blood pressure and its systemic hemodynamic determinants did not differ in postmenopausal users compared with those of nonusers of hormone replacement therapy. Resting oxygen consumption was the strongest physiological correlate of cardiac output in the overall population (r = 0.65, P < 0.001). We conclude that 1) the increases in arterial blood pressure at rest with age in healthy normotensive women are not obviously related to habitual physical activity status; 2) the systemic hemodynamic determinants of the age-related elevations in blood pressure are fundamentally different in sedentary vs. active women, possibly due, in part, to an absence of decline in resting oxygen consumption in the latter; and 3) systemic hemodynamics at rest are not different in healthy normotensive postmenopausal users vs. nonusers of estrogen-based hormone replacement.