1. Inter-relationship between age, systolic blood pressure and baroreflex sensitivity index derived from the Valsalva manoeuvre was investigated in either combined or separated groups of normal and hypertensive subjects.
2. Both in the total population as a whole and in each blood pressure subgroup, the baroreflex sensitivity index was significantly inversely related to age and to systolic blood pressure. Furthermore, age was significantly related to systolic blood pressure except in the hypertensive group.
3. Partial correlation analysis showed that, in the total and hypertensive population, the baroreflex sensitivity index was significantly related to age and systolic blood pressure independently of each other variable. In the normal group, however, the baroreflex sensitivity index was not related to systolic blood pressure after adjusting for the effect of age, but remained significantly related to age independently of systolic blood pressure. The estimates of relative effects of the two variables on baroreflex sensitivity by multiple regression analysis were consistent with these results.
4. Thus a prevailing concept of the inhibitory effect of blood pressure on baroreflex function may be accurate exclusively in hypertensive patients, and baroreflex function appears to be more sensitive to age-related changes in this system than to those related to blood pressure level, particularly in non-hypertensive normal subjects.