The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Heightened diurnal endocrine levels in healthy women with a family history of hypertension: reproducibility over the menstrual cycle


Department of Anthropology and Decker School of Nursing, Binghamton University

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Using cross-sectional data, we previously showed that otherwise healthy women with a family history (FH) of hypertension had diurnally elevated epinephrine levels and greater daily cortisol variability than women with no familial history. Whether the FH differences persist over the menstrual cycle is unknown. The purpose of this study was to compare the variation in diurnal urinary catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine) and cortisol excretion and ambulatory blood pressures (BP) between women with (FH+) (N=31, age=34.9±7.2) and without (FH-) (N=40, age=34.9±8.2) a family history of hypertension over the menstrual cycle. The women all worked in clerical or technical positions at a medical center in NYC. Urinary hormone excretion rates and ambulatory BP were measured across three contrasting daily microenvironments: work (11AM-3PM), home (approx. 6PM-10PM) and during sleep (approx. 10PM- 6AM) on a mid-follicular and a mid-luteal workday. History group comparisons by microenvironment and menstrual phase were made using repeated measures ANCOVA models. The results of the analyses show that daily epinephrine excretion among FH+ women was consistently 34% higher than that of FH- women (p<.02) over the menstrual cycle, while cortisol values between the groups were similar. FH+ women also had consistently higher systolic BP (6 mmHg higher; p<.016) and diastolic BP (4 mmHg higher, p<.005) compared to FH- women over the cycle. These findings show that the epinephrine differences are consistent across the menstrual cycle and suggest that there may be genetically-linked mechanisms which elevate tonic epinephrine levels that contribute to the development of hypertension.

Supported by NIH grant HL47540.

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