Systolic and diastolic blood pressures together more useful for predicting cardiovascular risk

February 18, 2009

Individuals with diastolic blood pressure under 70 mm Hg coupled with an elevated systolic blood pressure may have a greater risk of heart attack and stroke than indicated by the systolic blood pressure values alone, according to a UC Irvine study.

Dr. Stanley Franklin and colleagues at the UC Irvine Heart Disease Prevention Program in conjunction with researchers at the Framingham Heart Study reviewed blood pressure data from 9,657 participants in the Framingham Heart Study who had not received antihypertensive treatment and found that the combination of low diastolic and high systolic numbers to be a superior predictor of future adverse cardiovascular events.

"Systolic blood pressure as a single blood pressure component is usually superior to diastolic blood pressure in predicting cardiovascular risk in middle-aged and older individuals," Franklin said. "But a very high or very low diastolic blood pressure can add to the risks identified by systolic blood pressure alone."

Currently, physicians diagnose hypertension with systolic and diastolic readings of 140/90 and above. This study suggests that doctors should give even greater consideration to systolic blood pressure when the diastolic blood pressure is low.

Franklin said, however, that a diastolic number under 70 mm Hg when combined with a systolic blood pressure less that 120 mm Hg indicates normal values with no increased cardiovascular risk; the low diastolic blood pressure must be coupled with an elevated systolic reading to indicate increased risk. This combination of blood pressure components is an indicator of increased stiffening of arteries, which is a strong risk factor for future heart attacks and strokes.

Study results appear in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association.

Source: University of California - Irvine

Explore further: Highlighting nearly 500 exotic plant species on a conservatory park in Malaysia

Related Stories

Gravity, who needs it? NASA studies your body in space

November 18, 2015

What happens to your body in space? NASA's Human Research Program has been unfolding answers for over a decade. Space is a dangerous, unfriendly place. Isolated from family and friends, exposed to radiation that could increase ...

Treating pulmonary diseases using Alaska pollock gelatin

October 23, 2015

In recent years, patients with pulmonary emphysema have been increasing mainly among middle-aged and elderly males due to aging and excessive smoking. Emphysema makes brittle lungs, and in severe cases, holes develop in the ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.