Background: Although hypertension is a principal precursor of congestive heart failure (CHF), the separate relations of systolic, diastolic, and pulse pressure with risk for heart failure have not been fully elucidated.
Objective: To examine the value of blood pressure predictors of heart failure.
Design: Community-based inception cohort study.
Setting: Framingham, Massachusetts.
Patients: 2040 free-living Framingham Heart Study participants (mean age, 61 years [range, 50 to 79 years]).
Measurements: The association of baseline systolic, diastolic, and pulse pressure with risk for incident CHF was examined in 894 men and 1146 women. Framingham Heart Study participants free of CHF at the baseline examination (performed from 1968 to 1973) were monitored for up to 24 years (mean, 17.4 years) for new-onset heart failure. Cox proportional hazards models were used to adjust for age, sex, smoking, left ventricular hypertrophy, body mass index, diabetes mellitus, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level, and heart rate; hazard ratios and 95% CIs for blood pressure variables were estimated.
Results: CHF developed in 234 participants (11.8%) during the follow-up period. All three blood pressure components were related to the risk for CHF, but the relation was strongest for systolic and pulse pressure. A 1-SD (20 mm Hg) increment in systolic pressure conferred a 56% increased risk for CHF (hazard ratio, 1.56 [95% CI, 1.37 to 1.77]); similarly, a 1-SD (16 mm Hg) increment in pulse pressure conferred a 55% increased risk for CHF (hazard ratio, 1.55 [CI, 1.37 to 1.75]). These associations were unrelated to age, duration of follow-up, and initiation of treatment for hypertension during follow-up; they were also observed in patients with systolic hypertension (systolic blood pressure > or = 140 mm Hg) at the baseline examination (hazard ratio, 1.41 [CI, 1.18 to 1.69] for pulse pressure and 1.42 [CI, 1.14 to 1.76] for systolic pressure).
Conclusions: Although each component of blood pressure was associated with risk for CHF, pulse and systolic pressure conferred greater risk than diastolic pressure. Increased pulse pressure may help identify hypertensive patients at high risk for overt CHF who are candidates for aggressive blood pressure control.