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N Engl J Med. 2019 Jul 18;381(3):243-251. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1803180.

Effect of Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure on Cardiovascular Outcomes.

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From the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland (A.C.F., C.C.), and the Departments of Neuroscience (A.C.F., S.L.C., V.A.R., R.B.M.) and Cardiology (X.R., N.M.B.), Kaiser Permanente, Redwood City - both in California; and Brigham and Women's Hospital Heart and Vascular Center and Harvard Medical School - both in Boston (D.L.B.).



The relationship between outpatient systolic and diastolic blood pressure and cardiovascular outcomes remains unclear and has been complicated by recently revised guidelines with two different thresholds (≥140/90 mm Hg and ≥130/80 mm Hg) for treating hypertension.


Using data from 1.3 million adults in a general outpatient population, we performed a multivariable Cox survival analysis to determine the effect of the burden of systolic and diastolic hypertension on a composite outcome of myocardial infarction, ischemic stroke, or hemorrhagic stroke over a period of 8 years. The analysis controlled for demographic characteristics and coexisting conditions.


The burdens of systolic and diastolic hypertension each independently predicted adverse outcomes. In survival models, a continuous burden of systolic hypertension (≥140 mm Hg; hazard ratio per unit increase in z score, 1.18; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.17 to 1.18) and diastolic hypertension (≥90 mm Hg; hazard ratio per unit increase in z score, 1.06; 95% CI, 1.06 to 1.07) independently predicted the composite outcome. Similar results were observed with the lower threshold of hypertension (≥130/80 mm Hg) and with systolic and diastolic blood pressures used as predictors without hypertension thresholds. A J-curve relation between diastolic blood pressure and outcomes was seen that was explained at least in part by age and other covariates and by a higher effect of systolic hypertension among persons in the lowest quartile of diastolic blood pressure.


Although systolic blood-pressure elevation had a greater effect on outcomes, both systolic and diastolic hypertension independently influenced the risk of adverse cardiovascular events, regardless of the definition of hypertension (≥140/90 mm Hg or ≥130/80 mm Hg). (Funded by the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Program.).

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