Posted on Feb 19, 2009, 12 p.m.
By gary clark
A University of California, Irving study has shown that using a combination of low diastolic and high systolic numbers is more effective for predicting cardiovascular risk than systolic blood pressure alone.
Dr. Stanley Franklin and his colleagues at the UC Irvine Heart Disease Prevention Program, together with researchers at the Framingham Heart Study, reviewed blood pressure data from 9,657 participants in the Framingham Heart Study. None of the participants had received antihypertensive treatment. The study found that diastolic blood pressure under 70 mm Hg, combined with high systolic numbers, is 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 says. "But a very high or very low diastolic blood pressure can add to the risks identified by systolic blood pressure alone."
Today, patients with systolic and diastolic readings of 140/90 and above are considered to have hypertension. The results of this study suggest that when the diastolic blood pressure is low, physicians should give greater weight to the systolic blood pressure. However, Franklin emphasizes that an increased risk is only indicated when the low diastolic blood pressure is combined with an elevated systolic reading. As he explains, the combination of a low diastolic blood pressure under 70 mm and an elevated systolic blood pressure can be an indicator of increased stiffening of the arteries, a key risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. The study was published in the American Heart Association's journal, Circulation.
News Release: Systolic and diastolic blood pressures together more useful for predicting cardiovascular risk www.eurekalert.org February 18, 2009