Transiently raised diastolic blood pressure is linked with a raised risk of death, especially in women, say researchers.
Researchers looked at more than 20,000 patients whose records were flagged for long-term follow up in the early 1970s to look at the long-term effects of diastolic hypertension.
Initial results after an average follow up of 29 years showed that those with diastolic hypertension and transiently raised high diastolic pressure were at increased risk of death and death from cardiovascular causes, compared with those who did not.
But when the researchers from Imperial College London looked in more detail they realised that the link was only significant in women.
Transient diastolic hypertension was linked with a 57% increased risk of total and cardiovascular mortality in women and sustained diastolic hypertension was found to increase the risk by 39%, compared with women who did not.
Writing in the Journal of Hypertension, they pointed out that the emphasis in recent years had shifted to focus on systolic pressure and variability in blood pressure.
They concluded: ‘Transient diastolic hypertension does not seem to be benign, particularly in women and may point to those at higher cardiovascular risk when seen in a general practice population,’ they said.
One of the researchers, Dr Nigel Beckett an honorary senior lecturer at Imperial College, said elevated pressures seen in general practice, even if only once, should be followed up in the coming years. ‘There is increasing evidence that perhaps greater BP variability is as bad for you as sustained elevated pressures.’