Objective To describe the relationship of blood pressure (BP), antihypertensive medication use, and other factors to serial measurements of retinal arteriolar diameters over time in the Beaver Dam Eye Study.
Methods Retinal arteriolar diameter was measured by computer-assisted methods and summarized as central retinal arteriolar equivalent (CRAE) in 4573 persons aged 43 to 99 years at 4 examinations (each separated by 5 years) during a 15-year period. Associations of CRAE with risk factors measured concurrently and 5 years previously were determined using multivariate analyses.
Results While adjusting for image quality, refraction, and lens status, age (per 10 years: β estimate, −0.73; P < .001), systolic BP (per 10 mm Hg: concurrent examination, −2.74; P < .001; previous examination, −1.75; P < .001), smoking status (smoker vs nonsmoker: concurrent examination, 4.29; P < .001; previous examination, 1.63; P = .004), body mass index (per category: concurrent examination, −0.51; P = .05; previous examination, −0.22; P = .44), and heavy alcohol consumption (drinking) (current vs past/never heavy drinker: concurrent examination, −2.54; P = .03; previous examination, −2.42; P = .02) were associated with CRAE. In the same model, there were significant interactions between concurrent and previous systolic BP (0.11; P = .003) and between concurrent and previous body mass index (0.12; P = .04). Use of calcium channel blockers at both the concurrent and past examination (vs neither examination, 1.59; P = .01), but not other classes of antihypertensive drugs, was associated with CRAE.
Conclusions Retinal arteriolar diameter is independently associated with past and current systolic BP, calcium channel blocker use, smoking status, body mass index, and heavy drinking during 5-year intervals. The relationships with CRAE are stronger for concurrent than for past measures of these variables.