The study authors also reported that lifetime risk of developing heart failure doubles for people who have high blood pressure.
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a fatal disease more common among the elderly because of accumulated heart damage. It's a syndrome in which elevated pressure inside the heart causes fluid to back up in the body. CHF can be caused by prior heart attack, long-standing high blood pressure, diabetes, or a tight or leaky heart valve.
"Our data suggest differing degrees of importance for high blood pressure versus heart attack as risk factors for heart failure in women and men," says lead author Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D. He is a research associate with the Framingham Heart Study, a long-standing study of cardiovascular risk factors funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
The lifetime risk for women without a history of heart attack was one in six compared with one in five for all women. "This small difference in risk indicates that factors other than heart attack play a greater role in women's risk for heart failure," says Lloyd-Jones, who is also an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "Our data suggest that hypertension is the most important risk factor in women."
In contrast, the lifetime risk for CHF was reduced by almost half for men without a prior heart attack (one in nine) compared with all men (one in five), which indicates the importance of heart attack for CHF risk in men.
The study highlights a significant link between high blood pressure and long-term risk for CHF in both men and women. For 40-year-old women with systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) below 140 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and diastolic bloo
Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association