Association of Early Adulthood 25-Year Blood Pressure Trajectories with Cerebral Lesions and Brain Structure in Midlife

Yi Han Hu, Michael R. Halstead, R. Nick Bryan, Pamela J. Schreiner, David R. Jacobs, Stephen Sidney, Cora E. Lewis, Lenore J. Launer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Importance: Midlife elevated blood pressure (BP) is an important risk factor associated with brain structure and function. Little is known about trajectories of BP that modulate this risk. Objective: To identify BP trajectory patterns from young adulthood to midlife that are associated with brain structure in midlife. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study used data of US adults from Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA), a prospective longitudinal study of Black and White men and women (baseline age 18 to 30 years) examined up to 8 times over 30 years (1985-1986 to 2015-2016). There were 885 participants who underwent brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the 25th or 30th year examinations. Analyses were conducted November 2019 to December 2020. Exposures: Using group-based trajectory modeling, 5 25-year BP trajectories for 3 BP traits were identified in the total CARDIA cohort of participants with 3 or more BP measures, which were then applied to analyses of the subset of 853 participants in the Brain MRI substudy. Mean arterial pressure (MAP) was examined as an integrative measure of systolic and diastolic BP. With linear regression, the associations of the BP trajectories with brain structures were examined, adjusting sequentially for demographics, cardiovascular risk factors, and antihypertensive medication use. Main Outcomes and Measures: Brain MRI outcomes include total brain, total gray matter, normal-looking and abnormal white matter volumes, gray matter cerebral blood flow, and white matter fractional anisotropy. Results: Brain MRI analyses were conducted on 853 participants (mean [SD] age, 50.3 [3.6] years; 399 [46.8%] men; 354 [41.5%] Black and 499 [58.5%] White individuals). The MAP trajectory distribution was 187 individuals (21.1%) with low-stable, 385 (43.5%) with moderate-gradual, 71 (8.0%) with moderate-increasing, 204 (23.1%) with elevated-stable, and 38 (4.3%) with elevated-increasing. Compared with the MAP low-stable trajectory group, individuals in the moderate-increasing and elevated-increasing groups were more likely to have higher abnormal white matter volume (moderate: β, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.23 to 0.82; elevated: β, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.19 to 0.95). Those in the MAP elevated-increasing group had lower gray matter cerebral blood flow (β, -0.42; 95% CI, -0.79 to -0.05) after adjusting for sociodemographics and cardiovascular risk factors. After adjustment for antihypertensive medication use, the difference was consistent for abnormal white matter volume, but results were no longer significant for gray matter cerebral blood flow. Conclusions and Relevance: Among young adults with moderate to high levels of BP, a gradual increase in BP to middle-age may increase the risk in diffuse small vessel disease and lower brain perfusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E221175
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 10 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding/Support: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study is conducted and supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in collaboration with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (Nos. HHSN268201800005I and HHSN268201800007I), Northwestern University (HHSN268201800003I), University of Minnesota (HHSN268201800006I), and Kaiser Foundation Research Institute (HHSN268201800004I). CARDIA was also partially supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and an intra-agency agreement between NIA and NHLBI (AG0005).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.


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