Long-Term Exposure to Elevated Systolic Blood Pressure in Predicting Incident Cardiovascular Disease: Evidence From Large-Scale Routine Electronic Health Records

J Am Heart Assoc. 2019 Jun 18;8(12):e012129. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.119.012129. Epub 2019 Jun 5.


Background How measures of long-term exposure to elevated blood pressure might add to the performance of "current" blood pressure in predicting future cardiovascular disease is unclear. We compared incident cardiovascular disease risk prediction using past, current, and usual systolic blood pressure alone or in combination. Methods and Results Using data from UK primary care linked electronic health records, we applied a landmark cohort study design and identified 80 964 people, aged 50 years (derivation cohort=64 772; validation cohort=16 192), who, at study entry, had recorded blood pressure, no prior cardiovascular disease, and no previous antihypertensive or lipid-lowering prescriptions. We used systolic blood pressure recorded up to 10 years before baseline to estimate past systolic blood pressure (mean, time-weighted mean, and variability) and usual systolic blood pressure (correcting current values for past time-dependent blood pressure fluctuations) and examined their prospective relation with incident cardiovascular disease (first hospitalization for or death from coronary heart disease or stroke/transient ischemic attack). We used Cox regression to estimate hazard ratios and applied Bayesian analysis within a machine learning framework in model development and validation. Predictive performance of models was assessed using discrimination (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve) and calibration metrics. We found that elevated past, current, and usual systolic blood pressure values were separately and independently associated with increased incident cardiovascular disease risk. When used alone, the hazard ratio (95% credible interval) per 20-mm Hg increase in current systolic blood pressure was 1.22 (1.18-1.30), but associations were stronger for past systolic blood pressure (mean and time-weighted mean) and usual systolic blood pressure (hazard ratio ranging from 1.39-1.45). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for a model that included current systolic blood pressure, sex, smoking, deprivation, diabetes mellitus, and lipid profile was 0.747 (95% credible interval, 0.722-0.811). The addition of past systolic blood pressure mean, time-weighted mean, or variability to this model increased the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (95% credible interval) to 0.750 (0.727-0.811), 0.750 (0.726-0.811), and 0.748 (0.723-0.811), respectively, with all models showing good calibration. Similar small improvements in area under the receiver operating characteristic curve were observed when testing models on the validation cohort, in sex-stratified analyses, or by using different landmark ages (40 or 60 years). Conclusions Using multiple blood pressure recordings from patients' electronic health records showed stronger associations with incident cardiovascular disease than a single blood pressure measurement, but their addition to multivariate risk prediction models had negligible effects on model performance.

Keywords: cardiovascular disease; electronic health records; high blood pressure; hypertension; risk prediction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment
  • Time Factors