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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2009 Nov 10;54(20):1827-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2009.05.073.

The J-curve between blood pressure and coronary artery disease or essential hypertension: exactly how essential?

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  • 1Division of Cardiology, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York 10019, USA.


The topic of the J-curve relationship between blood pressure and coronary artery disease (CAD) has been the subject of much controversy for the past decades. An inverse relationship between diastolic pressure and adverse cardiac ischemic events (i.e., the lower the diastolic pressure the greater the risk of coronary heart disease and adverse outcomes) has been observed in numerous studies. This effect is even more pronounced in patients with underlying CAD. Indeed, a J-shaped relationship between diastolic pressure and coronary events was documented in treated patients with CAD in most large trials that scrutinized this relationship. In contrast to any other vascular bed, the coronary circulation receives its perfusion mostly during diastole; hence, an excessive decrease in diastolic pressure can significantly hamper perfusion. This adverse effect of too low a diastolic pressure on coronary heart disease leaves the practicing physician with the disturbing possibility that, in patients at risk, lowering blood pressure to levels that prevent stroke or renal disease might actually precipitate myocardial ischemia. However, these concerns should not deter physicians from pursuing a more aggressive control of hypertension, because currently blood pressure is brought to recommended target levels in only approximately one-third of patients.

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