The two blood pressure readings, systolic (high) and diastolic (low) independently predicted the risk of heart attack or stroke in a large study coordinated by Kaiser Permanente, which included more than 36 million pressure readings blood pressure of more than 1 million people during their outpatient visits between 2007 and 2016.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, goes against decades of previous research that indicates that a high systolic blood pressure, which measures the force with which the heart pumps blood into the arteries, is more determinant as risk factor than diastolic pressure, which indicates the pressure on the arteries when the heart rests between beats.
But the truth is that, after adjusting the data for possible confounding factors, the researchers concluded that while systolic pressure has a greater impact, both of them significantly influenced the risk of heart attack or stroke, regardless of the definition used for high and even blood pressure in the lower threshold of 130/80 mm Hg.
“The controversy over whether systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure or both contribute to cardiovascular risk has persisted for a long time. This analysis that uses a large amount of longitudinal data demonstrates convincingly that both are important, and shows that in people which are generally healthy, lower blood pressure numbers are better, “concludes Deepak L. Bhatt, lead author of the research, executive director of Interventional Cardiovascular Services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.