Objective: To examine the relationship between the normal nocturnal decline in blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular mortality in individuals with and without high 24-h blood pressure values.
Methods: We obtained 24-h ambulatory blood pressure readings from 1542 residents of Ohasama, Japan, who were aged 40 years or more and were representative of the Japanese general population. We then followed up their survival for a mean of 9.2 years. The relationship was analysed using a Cox proportional hazards model adjusted for possible confounding factors.
Results: There was a linear relationship between the nocturnal decline in blood pressure and cardiovascular mortality. On average, each 5% decrease in the decline in nocturnal systolic/diastolic blood pressure was associated with an approximately 20% greater risk of cardiovascular mortality. There were no significant interactions for the risk between 24-h systolic/diastolic blood pressure values and continuous values for the nocturnal decline in blood pressure ( for interaction 0.6). Even when 24-h blood pressure values were within the normal range ( 135/80 mmHg, average 118/69 mmHg), diminished nocturnal decreases in systolic/diastolic blood pressure were associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular mortality.
Conclusions: This is the first study to demonstrate that a diminished nocturnal decline in blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular mortality, independent of the overall blood pressure load during a 24-h period, in the general population.