Social Relationships and Hypertension in Late Life: Evidence from a Nationally Representative Longitudinal Study of Older Adults

Yang Claire Yang, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Courtney Boen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Social relationships are widely understood to be important for sustaining and improving health and longevity in social species, but critical gaps in the literature remain. This study utilized longitudinal data on a nationally representative sample of older adults from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (2005 – 2011) to examine of the effects of social integration and social support on change in systolic blood pressure and hypertension risk over time. Results show that while both social relationship dimensions have significant cardiovascular impacts, their relative importance differs by outcomes. Low social support was predictive of increase in systolic blood pressure; while low social integration was predictive of increase in risk of hypertension. The different roles of relationship characteristics in affecting cardiovascular outcomes suggest specific biophysiological stress response mechanisms that have important implications for both scientific understandings and effective prevention and control of a leading chronic condition in late life.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 174: Aging, Biodemography and Biomarkers