The J-curve phenomenon and the treatment of hypertension. Is there a point beyond which pressure reduction is dangerous?

JAMA. 1991 Jan 23-30;265(4):489-95.


We critically appraised the medical literature to evaluate whether there is a point beyond which blood pressure reduction in hypertensive subjects is no longer beneficial and possibly even deleterious. Thirteen studies that stratified cardiovascular outcomes by level of achieved blood pressure in treated hypertensive subjects who had been followed up for at least 1 year were critiqued by four independent reviewers. Data addressing population, protocol, and methodological characteristics were evaluated. Studies did not show a consistent J-shaped relationship between treated blood pressure and stroke, but they did demonstrate a consistent J-shaped relationship for cardiac events and diastolic blood pressure. The beneficial therapeutic threshold point was 85 mm Hg. We conclude that low treated diastolic blood pressure levels, ie, below 85 mm Hg, are associated with increased risk of cardiac events.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / etiology
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / mortality
  • Coronary Disease / etiology
  • Coronary Disease / mortality
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / mortality
  • Hypertension / therapy*
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Risk Factors