Doctors’ offices and outpatient departments typically measure blood pressure (BP) with the patient in a sitting position, whereas inpatient departments also use the supine position. As sex and age influence the autonomic function associated with BP regulation our study compared BP measurements in supine and sitting positions for men and women of different ages.
We included 91 men and 118 women (≥18 years) without severe diseases. Hypertension was not an exclusion criterion because it is common in older persons. Mean left brachial BP and heart rate were determined by a digital sphygmomanometer in supine position as well as in sitting position before and after hand force measurement.
In a supine position women had slightly lower diastolic BP values than men. After sitting up, the diastolic BP increased in nearly all subjects. This increase was greater in women older than 50 years than for aged-matched men. In contrast to diastolic BP the systolic BP increased after sitting up in only two thirds of the subjects. Especially in women younger than 50 years the systolic BP often did not increase but decreased in response to postural change. The pulse pressure was mostly reduced after sitting up. This reduction was more pronounced in women than men independent of age and physical effort (i.e. hand force measurement). The sitting position also caused an increased heart rate, which was independent of sex and age.
Postural changes in the systolic and diastolic BP simultaneously depend on sex and age that needs to be considered for BP measurements in supine and sitting body positions.