To examine the relationship of blood pressure with haematocrit, plasma viscosity, whole blood viscosity and plasma fibrinogen.
A random population sample of 1264 men and women aged 25-64 years from the west of Scotland, UK.
Strong correlations between age, body mass index and blood pressure were noted: these were higher for women than men. Blood viscosity, haematocrit and plasma viscosity correlated with blood pressure independently of age, body mass index and smoking status. No evidence was found for an effect of erythrocyte rigidity upon blood pressure; plasma fibrinogen showed an inverse correlation with blood pressure and the rheological variables on multivariate analysis.
Our findings support the role of blood viscosity in determining blood pressure as suggested by other, smaller studies. The magnitude of the effect upon blood pressure levels across the normal range of blood viscosity was of clinical importance. Further studies of factors that influence blood and plasma viscosity may help in the understanding of the aetiology of essential hypertension and its management.