Association of systolic blood pressure with mortality in patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction: a complex relationship

Am Heart J. 2011 Mar;161(3):567-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2010.12.009.


Background: In ambulatory patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), high systolic blood pressure (SBP) is associated with better outcomes. However, it is not known whether there is a ceiling beyond which high SBP has a detrimental effect. Thus, our aim was to assess the linearity of association between SBP and mortality.

Methods: We used the External Peer Review Program (EPRP) and Digitalis Investigation Group (DIG) trial databases of HFrEF patients. Linearity of association of SBP with mortality was assessed by plotting Martingale residuals against SBP. To assess the patterns of relationship of SBP with mortality, we used restricted cubic spline analysis with Cox proportional hazards model.

Results: In patients with mild-to-moderate left ventricular systolic dysfunction (LVSD) (30% ≤ LVEF < 50%), SBP had a nonlinear association with mortality in both EPRP (n = 3,693) and DIG (n = 3,263) databases. In these patients, SBP had a significant U-shaped association with mortality in EPRP and a trend toward U-shaped relationship in DIG database. In patients with severe LVSD (LVEF <30%), SBP had a linear association with mortality in both EPRP (n = 2,906) and DIG (n = 3,537) databases, with lower SBP being associated with increased mortality.

Conclusions: Systolic blood pressure has a complex nonlinear association with mortality in patients with heart failure. Whereas it has a U-shaped association in patients with mild-to-moderate LVSD, it has a linear association with mortality in patients with severe LVSD. Recognition of this pattern of association of blood pressure profile may help clinicians in providing better care for their patients and help improve existing prediction models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology
  • Heart Failure / mortality*
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stroke Volume
  • Survival Analysis
  • Systole / physiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left / epidemiology*