Background and Purpose - Exaggerated blood pressure reactivity to stress is associated with atherosclerosis and hypertension, which are known stroke risk factors, but its relation to stroke is unknown, Previous work also indicates that the association between reactivity and cardiovascular diseases may be influenced by socioeconomic status. Methods - The impact of blood pressure reactivity and socioeconomic status on incident stroke was examined in 2303 men (mean age, 52.8±5.1 years) from a population-based, longitudinal study of risk factors for ischemic heart disease in eastern Finland. Reactivity was calculated as the difference between blood pressure measured during the anticipatory phase of an exercise tolerance test (before exercise) and resting blood pressure, measured 1 week earlier. Mean systolic reactivity was 20 mm Hg (±15.9), and mean diastolic reactivity was 8.6 mm Hg (±8.5). Socioeconomic status was assessed as years of education. One hundred thirteen incident strokes (90 ischemic) occurred in 11.2 (±1.6) years of follow-up. Results - Men with exaggerated systolic reactivity (≥20 mm Hg) had 72% greater risk of any stroke (relative hazard ratio [RH], 1.72; 95% CI, 1.17 to 2.54) and 87% greater risk of ischemic stroke (RH, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.20 to 2.89) relative to less reactive men. Moreover, men who were high reactors and poorly educated were nearly 3 times more likely to suffer a stroke than better educated, less reactive men (RH, 2.90; 95% CI, 1.66 to 5.08). Adjustment for stroke risk factors had little impact on these associations. Diastolic reactivity was unrelated to stroke risk. Conclusions - Excessive sympathetic reactivity to stress may be etiologically important in stroke, especially ischemic strokes, and low socioeconomic status confers added risk.
- Social class