Blood Pressure Readings: Which Number is More Important?
November 25, 2006
Systolic blood pressure, the maximum arterial pressure during contraction of the left ventricle of the heart, is an important factor in predicting mortality risk for heart failure patients.
Systolic blood pressure is typically the first number in a blood pressure reading; for example, 120 when the blood pressure is reported as 120/80.
Heart failure patients with high systolic blood pressures had lower death rates; those with low systolic pressures may have a more advanced disease and a poorer prognosis. Mortality rates were more than four times higher for those with systolic pressures of less than 120, in comparison to those who had pressure over 161. For many younger patients, a low blood pressure is a sign of heart health, but for some older patients and heart failure patients, who need a higher blood pressure to maintain adequate blood flow to vital organs, low blood pressure can be a sign of serious problems.
These conclusions were gleaned from research on more than 48,000 heart failure patients seen at 259 U.S. hospitals between March 2003 and December 2004.