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Higher blood hematocrit predicts hypertension in men

Jae, Sae Younga; Kurl, Sudhirb; Laukkanen, Jari A.b,c; Heffernan, Kevin S.d; Choo, Jinae; Choi, Yoon-Hof; Park, Jeong Baeg

doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000000029

Objective: Little is known on the relationship between blood hematocrit level as an estimate of whole blood viscosity and the risk of hypertension. We investigated the relationship of higher hematocrit level with incident hypertension in men during a mean follow-up of 5 years.

Methods: Participants were 3620 men (mean age 48 ± 6 years) who participated in two health examinations during 1998–2009. All participants were free of hypertension and within the normal range of hematocrit (39–50%) at baseline. The incidence of hypertension was defined as blood pressure values exceeding 140/90 mmHg of SBP and/or DBP at time of follow-up examination.

Results: During 17 856 person-years of follow-up, 351 new cases of hypertension developed. The relative risk (RR) of incident hypertension in men with hematocrit in the highest tertile vs. men with hematocrit in the lowest tertile was 1.45 (95% confidence interval, CI 1.11–1.90) after adjustment for confounding factors. Every 1% increment in hematocrit was associated with 7% (RR 1.07, 95% CI 1.02–1.13) higher incidence of hypertension after adjusting for risk factors. Men whose hematocrit increased over time had a 25% increased risk of developing hypertension (RR 1.25, 95% CI 1.01–1.57) compared with men with decreased hematocrit after adjustment for risk factors.

Conclusion: These results demonstrate that higher hematocrit levels, even within the normal range, were associated with the incidence of hypertension independent of other risk factors in men.

aDepartment of Sport Science, University of Seoul, Seoul, South Korea

bDepartment of Medicine, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio

cDepartment of Internal Medicine, Lapland Central Hospital, Rovaniemi, Finland

dDepartment of Exercise Science, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA

eCollege of Nursing, Korea University

fCenter for Health Promotion, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine

gDivision of Cardiology, Cheil General Hospital, Kwandong University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea

Correspondence to Sae Y. Jae, PhD, Health and Integrative Physiology Laboratory, Department of Sport Science, University of Seoul, 90 Jeonnong-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul 130-743, South Korea. Tel: +82 2 6490 2953; fax: +82 2 6490 2949; e-mail:

Abbreviations: Hct, hematocrit; HDL-C, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol; HR, heart rate; LDL-C, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol; RR, relative risk; TC, total cholesterol; VO2max, peak oxygen uptake; WBC, white blood cell count

Received 15 July, 2013

Revised 26 September, 2013

Accepted 26 September, 2013

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins