1. The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether metabolic factors are linked to the steady component and the pulsatile component of blood pressure, evaluated as mean arterial pressure and pulse pressure respectively, in a sex-specific manner. 2. A cohort of 299 subjects (152 males, 147 females; 25–80 years of age) was studied. Patients presenting congestive heart failure, coronary insufficiency, severe valvular heart disease, neurological accident in the last 6 months, renal or respiratory failure, cancer, diabetes mellitus or acute infectious disease were excluded. None of the women was taking oral contraceptives or oestrogen supplementation. All cardioactive drugs were withdrawn at least 2 weeks before the subjects entered the study.

3. Men presented higher mean arterial pressure (120 ± 15 compared with 115 ± 16 mmHg, P < 0.01) and lower pulse pressure values (63 ± 16 compared with 67 ± 18 mmHg, P < 0.05) than women. In men, no significant relation between mean arterial pressure and the tested variables was detected; multiple regression analysis demonstrated that age contributed independently to the model for pulse pressure with a multiple r2 of 0.10 (P < 0.01). In women, body mass index contributed independently to the model for mean arterial pressure, with a multiple of 0.12 (P < 0.005); age and, to a lesser extent, body mass index, glycaemia and triglyceridaemia persisted as independent determinants of pulse pressure at the multiple regression analysis, with a multiple r2 of 0.20 (P < 0.001).

4. Our findings suggest that metabolic risk factors are associated differently with pulse pressure and mean arterial pressure values in the two sexes.

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