Dec 19th, 2011 by admin
Division of Nephrology and Dialysis, Teaching Hospital, Foligno, Italy.
The powerful effect of psychosocial and acculturating influences on population blood pressure trends seems to be confirmed, through longitudinal observations, in the nuns in a secluded order. After initial observations had been made on culture, body form, blood pressure, diet, and other variables in 144 nuns and 138 lay women, included as a control group, a 30-year follow-up study was undertaken. Most striking were opposite trends noted between the two groups in blood pressure trend. During the follow-up period, blood pressure remained remarkably stable among the nuns. None showed an increase in diastolic blood pressure over 90 mm Hg. By contrast, the control women showed the expected increase in blood pressure with age. This resulted in a gradually greater difference (delta>30/15 mm Hg) in systolic and diastolic blood pressure between the two groups, which was statistically significant. In addition, cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, expressed as the outcome of fatal and nonfatal events, were different in the two groups. They were significantly more common in the lay women than in the nuns. Comparisons between survival curves were statistically significant (p = 0.0043 for fatal events; p = 0.0056 for nonfatal events) between the two groups. In conclusion, it seems reasonable to attribute much of the difference in blood pressure and cardiovascular events, to the different burden in psychosocial factor and to the preserved peaceful lifestyle of the nuns.